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.

29 thoughts on “Gone Phone”

  1. We all feel so violated when subjected to burglary. So sorry that happened to you, but you will be more wary of distractions now, I’m sure!

  2. It happened to me about 10 years ago when it was Mega. Man asked a question in the bakery area which surprised me. The accomplice was so smooth in getting my wallet that I didn’t realize it until I got to the register. I now carry money and cards in my bra and no longer carry anything of importance. Good lesson.
    Having to replace credit cards, drivers license, visa etc. was exhausting. No, the crooks didn’t get anything because they tried to charge a huge amount here and in Queretaro. Both charges were declined by my cc. company!

    1. They’re certainly smooth operators, aren’t they Babs? I wouldn’t want readers to get the impression that La Comer (Mega) isn’t a safe place to shop. I think these talented thieves are found everywhere in the world.

  3. My dear Bonnie, I’m terribly sorry to hear about your robbery. I’m relieved to read that everything was backed up and you are unscathed. By the way, it was nearly 3 years ago that I gave you my iPhone 7! 2 years and 8 months to be precise. TBH, I’m impressed that the battery lasted as long as it did. Bravo for taking such good care of it. I just bought a 14, so if for any reason Kim’s old phone is funky . . . you can have my 11 Pro. Sending love (and rainstorms) from Nashville. ~ Kharin

    1. Your rainstorms arrived today, dear Kharin! Thank you for sending them. Your kind offer of your 11 Pro sounds too good to pass up! Let’s discuss when you return to SMA. (Oh, and I’d just replaced the battery on your old one — only a month or two ago.) Safe travels, BB xx

    1. Definitely a pain, Victoria, you’re right! I have a photographer friend in NYC who carries her iPhone on a chain around her neck, like a pendant. Perhaps that’s the solution. 🙂

  4. So sorry you had this experience, Bonnie. We were very aware of pickpockets whilst in Paris this month. Your tips were helpful I am sure to those rich people who have iPhones, but I have a lowly Android. Do you have tips for me???

    1. Thanks, Anne! I’m not a rich person, but I guess I have rich friends who like to buy new iPhones and pass the old ones on to me! 🙂 I’m afraid I don’t have tips for you and your Android, but I’m sure that Mr. Google does. He knows everything. — xx

  5. Sorry this happened to you Bonnie. As always, you used it to create an interesting post. I frequently see women in the market with their handbags open and available in the carts and am glad we live in a place that is USUALLY so trusting and honest. Unfortunately, not this time for you.

    1. Thanks, Judy. Yes, you’re so right. I’ve always found people here in SMA to be remarkably and admirably honest. That’s why I suspected that woman to be from out of town. I take full responsibility for what happened; I shouldn’t have left my bag opened. Never again. Silly me!

  6. Oh my – never a dull moment! There are ‘sticky fingers’ from time to time wherever we are in the world. Caution is important, yet trust is too. You sensed something was unusual, and it was. You say you take full responsibility- but should you? An open backpack is not an invitation for theft. Stealing is wrong and even the thief knows this. Unfortunately, you were an easy target providing opportunity. I’m sorry you had to experience this….it’s stressful!

    1. Thanks, Barb dear! I’ll be going back to La Comer today to do my weekly shopping. But this time I think I’ll keep my backpack zipped up and attached to my back. 🙂 You’re right — sticky fingers are everywhere. La Comer is actually a very safe and wonderful place to shop. — See you soon, I hope!

  7. Bonnie Dear, I am so sorry to hear this. And at one of your (and my) favorite places in San Miguel. Thanks for that advice on what to do if you lose your iPhone. Very valuable. Just glad you had Paola and the new Manzanita store in SMA.

    1. Thanks, BeDear. Yes, one of the main reasons I wanted to share this story was to provide those valuable what-to-do tips I was given. These things occur all over the world. SMA (as you know) is really a very safe place to be! — xx

  8. It’s easy, in hindsight, to berate ourselves with what we “should have” done. I’m saddened by what you experienced and happy that it isn’t something that was at front of mind- meaning it doesn’t happen often. You have provided us with valuable information as a result of your experience, and I’m sure, many will reflect on how they use their phone. You have wonderful friends, and THAT is what stands out the most to me, from your story. Many hugs!

    1. As ever, dear Loula, you hit on the salient point: friends. You’re so right — I have wonderful friends — for which I’m deeply thankful. Where would we be without friends? — Abrazos (hugs), Bonnie

  9. Dear Bon,
    I think we share a common view of technology. But having your phone stolen is such an invasive act. And a really annoying one. My phone is eight years old and not an Apple. I really need a new one, and even though I plan to buy another inexpensive one, part of me resents having to. I am glad this story has a happy ending.

    1. Yes, dear Paul — one of the many views we have in common. One of the main reasons I wrote this “Gone Phone” post was to express my ambivalence about computer technology. You and I are in the minority, I feel. 🙁

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.