On Thursday night, I left work 10 minutes early. It had just begun to storm, and I was concerned with water pouring into my apartment. I don’t have air conditioning, and my windows stay open as often as possible in this weather.
I talked to Joe on my way, warning him of the road conditions.
Instead of parking in my allotted space in the adjoining lot, I drove around the block so I could park right in front of the building, hoping to stay drier. Plus, I’d be leaving again soon.
I went upstairs and checked my windows, which thankfully had not allowed much rain inside. I changed my clothes and checked my email and went back downstairs. In the elevator, I noticed I didn’t have my cell phone, but I was already running late for a birthday dinner on the west shore, and surely I could manage without it for a few hours.
I walked back out the way I’d come in, only this time it wasn’t storming. I drove to the restaurant and enjoyed a good meal with friends.
Four hours later, I returned home, only to find my cell phone wasn’t in my apartment. I checked my car, outside where I had parked earlier, my apartment, my car, my car. What the hell. All I could figure was that it must’ve bounced out of my purse as I was running from car to building in the pouring down rain hours earlier.
I don’t even want to go into how mad I was. While I don’t think I was particularly careless, and these things do happen — I don’t lose things. What angered me even more was that the phone had obviously been stolen.
I went downtown to meet friends and to try to call my phone, which was off. Whoever stole the phone had checked my messages, and was alternating between keeping the phone on and off. Still, it was late. Maybe this person — who at the time I believed to live in my building — would return the phone.
The reason I reacted so severely to this, I think, is that it threatened my independence. I live alone, in a big building with a bunch of weirdoes. While there are plenty of nice, honest people here, there are plenty of derelicts and freaks to offset that. I’m typically not afraid of being here alone, though I keep my door locked out of habit. I live in Midtown, where one block is nice and another isn’t. I’m riverfront, though, so this block is fine. But I got my parking space because I didn’t like having to walk alone late at night from a street space to home. I also have had my car broken into in that same parking lot.
I’m not afraid of living here, but it felt incapacitating to not have a means to the outside world. I don’t have a landline phone anymore, so a cell phone is my only way to contact others.
I put up a sign in my building. Our super, always helpful, said he’d keep his eyes open. Partway through Friday, I called my phone. It rang! So I called, five, six times in a row. No answer. Assholes.
Called back a few minutes later and the phone was off again.
Ever so positive, I sent Joe to my apartment to see if someone had returned it. Maybe it was sitting right outside my door and one of my neighbors turned it off because my repeated calls were annoying.
Unfortunately, that was not the case, so after work, I drove over to the mall and bought another phone. Oh, I guess I hadn’t mentioned that I just got this stupid phone. Therefore, I’m not applicable for any discounts, and no, I didn’t have insurance on it. It was a $40 phone that would’ve been free if I remembered to send in the rebate on time. Without a contract? $140.
The cheapest phone I could get was $99.99, so I did. I can’t be without a phone like that. I even considered ‘starting a new trend’ and ditching the cell for home service again, but it would cost $175 to break the Cingular contract anyway. If you decide to do that, I hear Vonage is pretty cool.
When I came home, I ripped down the sign about my phone still hanging in the lobby. As I did, one of my neighbors exited the elevator and turned and asked if I was the one who lost the phone. I said I was, and he went on to tell me that he saw some kids outside the building yesterday. One of them picked up the phone (right near where I must have dropped it) and yelled, “Yo, I got a new cell phone, Cuz!”
While I’m relieved to know that the adults in my building don’t go around stealing cell phones without checking to see if they belong to someone else, it doesn’t help too much to know it was “some bunch of kids.” I never see kids around here, except for the well-behaved girls who live here, and what were they doing out in the middle of a thunderstorm?
Regardless, I suppose, I’m back. This phone better last me a long, long time.