Dear Ma Bell:
Do you ever wonder what your great-great-grandchildren are up to in this modern era? Here are two small stories of cell phone crime and (sort of) love.
#1 – The Crime Story
I had a birthday this week and Sam took me out for a festive dinner. Apparently it was festive enough that we forgot to lock his car when we came home, because the next morning we found that someone had broken in. The doors were slightly ajar (no locks jimmied or windows broken), the glove compartment and ashtrays wide open, papers and other stuff strewn all over. The thieves didn’t take much — a couple of cell phone charges, Sam’s Blutooth speakerphone, and his spare change.
But they left their cell phone on the passenger seat.
Duh! I suppose this could be a teachable moment for my teenager: See, darling, it’s important to pay attention to detail, even when breaking into cars.
I was tempted to call up the thief myself, but used better judgment and called the Oakland police. When a police technician arrived to pick up the phone, she told me that this kind of thing happens every so often. Sometimes the police call up the thief, pretend to be a passerby and say, ‘Hey dude, found your phone.’ When the clueless wrongdoer comes to retrieve his phone, they ask him if it’s his, if he was the last person using it before it went missing, and boom! under arrest.
My story does not apparently have such a neat ending. With the city’s tight budget and limited staffing, they apparently won’t track down the phone owner with just one victim complaint. The technician suggested I ask my neighbors if they have suffered similar break-ins… and if there are several, we’d be more likely to get an investigation.
I posted this story on my block’s e-mail listserv yesterday. (Ma Bell, do you need me to tell you what a listserv is? Think of those party lines that the whole town could hear in your day.) So far, reports of two similar break-ins.
The crowning irony: The cell phone was a model called the Boost Mobile.
But when Sam pointed this out to his staff, the folks in their 20s and 30s had no idea of the meaning of the slang term “boost.”
#2 – The (Sort-of) Love Story
Again, it started with my birthday. Dozens of people left lovely birthday wishes on my Facebook wall. Then, the next day, I got a Facebook message from a woman in the security office of the Cal-EPA building in Sacramento.
They had found an iPhone somewhere in the building, and couldn’t identify the owner but saw that she or he had posted a comment on my FB page. Could I help them find the rightful owner?
So I posted a FB status message. The owner didn’t see it, but a mutual friend did, and told me who they thought it was, and I messaged him, and indeed it was his phone.
Not a true 100% love story, although I understand that many iPhone owners harbor suspiciously strong feelings for their devices. But I did feel like a supporting actor in a romantic comedy, uniting two painfully-lost soulmates. (When Harry Met Cellphone?)
Or maybe the village Yenta. Ma Bell, she’s been around even longer than you have! But today she has forsaken her Yiddish name for the modern one of JDate iPhone App.