Gone Phone

She was intent — too intent, it seems to me now, looking back on this incident — on initiating and maintaining a conversation with me. In the nearly eight years I’ve lived in San Miguel de Allende, I’ve found Mexican people to be warm, friendly, and always polite; never pushy or rude. This one was different. Maybe from out of town? I thought.  Mexico City? Celaya?

She appeared by my side suddenly and just as suddenly wanted to know my opinion on the products on the upper shelf to our right. Which was better? What were the relative merits of each of them?

We were in La Comer last Sunday at midday, in the gourmet aisle, looking at the gluten-free products. I’d just taken out my iPhone to use Google Translate to learn the meaning in English of some of the items new to me. As always, I carefully slipped my iPhone back into its case (a case I’d made by hand when I lived in Mali, West Africa, years before iPhones existed), then dropped it back into my backpack, which was open, in the front of my cart, on my left.

Taken aback by her abruptness but striving to overcome my innate social-reticence, I tried to answer her in my ever-halting Spanish. “I don’t really know,” I told her. “This is all new to me. I don’t know which ones to choose myself. I have some digestive issues, so I thought going gluten-free might help.”

She chattered on, continuing to direct my attention to that higher shelf on the right, while my back was turned to my cart and my backpack laying open in the front of it.

Then, like a happy butterfly, she flew off – cart-less – as if anxious to meet up with a friend. I continued shopping, thinking no more of this strange exchange.

I’ve been doing my grocery shopping at La Comer, which used to be known as La Mega, in San Miguel once a week for all the years I’ve lived here. It’s a marvelous store, in my opinion – large, clean, airy, bright, well-managed, well-staffed. I’ve never had any sort of problem there. Oddly enough, shopping at La Comer for everything I might need for the week has always been one of my week’s highlights. I’ve often thought, If they don’t have it at La Comer, I don’t need it.

It wasn’t until I got home from shopping there last Sunday that I realized my iPhone was gone.

This iPhone, my first-ever smartphone, was old – a gift from my friend Kharin two years ago, when she bought a new one for herself. Not long after we met, she insisted on dragging me – reluctant me – into the 21st century. “You MUST have a cellphone,” she said to me. “Here, take this one. I’ll show you how to use it. You’ll love it!”

I never loved it. But I did grow accustomed to it and even a little dependent on it in the two years we were together.

So I had mixed feelings on discovering it was gone. On the one hand, I felt relief: Oh, good! I can revert to my Luddite ways, pretending I’m living in a bygone time! I’ll no longer be tethered to a little device that tells me what to do and tries to run my life!

(Deep down, I’ve long suspected that computers are taking over the world, and we humans are asleep at the wheel. This suspicion has tended to bring out the rebel in me.)

Losing this phone also felt a little like breaking up with a boyfriend who was never really right for me. In my mind I heard some lyrics from a 1964 hit song, “… Got along withoutchu before I metchu, gonna get along withoutchu now!” Bye-bye!

But on the other hand… What would I do for a handy camera now? How would I know how many steps I’d walked every day? How would I read books on the go in Kindle? How would I communicate with my friends here on WhatsApp? (Mexicans love WhatsApp.) How could I live here in San Miguel without Google Translate at my fingertips? And Duolingo – what would I do without my daily dose of Duolingo Spanish lessons? (Have I become a Duolingo addict?)

As panic mounted, I reached out to friends via e-mail on my Apple laptop. (See one computer-savvy friend’s advice — some of which I’ve followed — below.) My dear, über-generous friend Kim offered to give me her old iPhone, which I gratefully and readily accepted. And there began several days of hassle and stress, trying to become reconnected to the 21st century.

On Monday my friend and Spanish maestra Edith and I visited La Comer to speak with the manager there and explain this incident. He was attentive and understanding. “These things happen,” he said (in Spanish), regretfully. He said he would look at the tape in an effort to identify her and her accomplice. He suggested I go to the police, which I wasn’t about to do.

Ultimately, Paola, the very able and muy amable (very kind) manager of the Apple store, Manzanita, here in San Miguel, came to my rescue. She arrived at my home on Wednesday morning at eight o’clock and worked her magic. She pulled everything of mine that had been floating around up there in the iCloud and magically plopped it all into this new-to-me little iPhone. Thanks to her, I can function again. For better or worse, I am once again tethered.

Some steps to take if your iPhone is lost or stolen:  

Use Find My iPhone if you had previously set it up to track your phone’s location, remotely lock it, or erase its data to protect your personal information.

Reach out to Apple’s support or customer service to report your lost or stolen iPhone. They can assist you with any additional options or steps to take.

If you had Apple Pay set up on your iPhone, contact your bank or credit card company to report the loss and disable Apple Pay on your device.

If you have the IMEI number of your iPhone, which can be found on the original packaging or through your Apple account, you can report it as stolen to your local law enforcement agency.

If you have insurance or an extended warranty for your iPhone, contact the provider to understand the coverage and process for filing a claim.

If all other options have been exhausted and you are unable to recover your lost or stolen iPhone, visit an Apple Store or authorized retailer to explore your options and choose a new iPhone.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The authorized Apple store in SMA, Manzanita (meaning little apple), is located in Plaza Brisas, between the Oxxo and Cruz Roja, off of the Libremiento; their hours are 10 am to 6 pm. www.manzanitastore.com.mx . Tel. (415) 121 6186. They are extremely knowledgeable and helpful.