Holding an iPhone Ransom on the Lower East Side

Posted on: November 7th, 2011 at 6:28 am by

This is probably the most epic “missed Connection” post we’ve read on Craigslist thus far. It’s not so much a one-in-a-million shot at true love with a stranger, rather a missive lambasting a teenage girl during a Halloween encounter on the Lower East Side. The anonymous submission is quite lengthy, but at issue was the loss of a beloved iPhone, and our male protagonist’s quest to retrieve. And boy is it a compelling read!

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We learn of a not-so-good-samaritan who allegedly tried extorting the victim for more money than he had on himself at the time. A series of shouting matches escalated to a chase into a “nearby pizzeria,” presumably Ray’s Pizza at 195 East Houston, where the iPhone was held hostage. The fuzz eventually showed up to diffuse the situation. But it was a bad night for this dude, as his wallet was also snatched during the hubbub.

Seriously, you can’t make this shit up. Read the thousand-word letter below. It’s totally worth the time:

I first spoke to you on my girlfriend’s phone, Halloween night, 2011. I don’t know how it happened but somehow, my iPhone had slipped out of my back pocket and was missing. I’d noticed this, sitting in the back of The Skinny on Orchard and Stanton, and had immediately sprinted back to Pianos, thinking that I might’ve left my phone by the upstairs bar. You answered my phone after many a frantically-placed call, made from my girlfriend’s phone, and informed me that you were in a cab but you could come back to where I was to return my phone. You also informed me that my mother had called my phone and, upon learning that you had it and were in a taxi headed back to where I was, had offered to pick up the fare. You then hinted, much less subtly, that you expected further “compensation,” as you put it. I assented to the idea, reasoning that whatever small bit of cash I had on me was worth the safe return of my iPhone.

I walked to the corner of Orchard and Houston to meet you and you arrived after no more than a couple of minutes which, at the time, I thought a bit odd, seeing as you’d been in a cab headed uptown. When I first saw you, you appeared to be a girl of only eighteen or nineteen, wearing a long, curly, brunette ponytail, a tight, black hoodie with brightly-colored stars, and tight, lightly-washed boot-cut jeans with a black, studded belt, an outfit too genuine in its stereotypical urban adolescence to be a Halloween costume. You were with two friends, a short girl and a tall, chubby girl, who were wearing rough variants of the same outfit. You asked if I was “the one with the phone.” I said that I was, indeed the person who’d lost his phone and procured my wallet, offering you every one of the six dollars, therein. In a shrill, harsh, loud Queens accent, you demanded twenty.

I suppose in retrospect, it was a bit “Larry David-esque” of me to be so taken aback by your poor-taste, gauche proposal, but I reasoned that giving you literally all of the cash on my person was enough to warrant the return of my iPhone–that, you know, you’d “do the right thing,” so to speak. Furthermore, I reckoned your alleged cab ride hadn’t cost all that much, seeing as you’d arrived no more than two minutes after answering my call. You told (not asked) me to go to an ATM. I declined and asked again that you return my phone, simultaneously offering you the six dollars in my wallet and explicating my lack of hesitancy in involving New York’s finest. Myriad onlookers and homeless men gathered around as we argued; some people took videos on their phones. You started to walk away and I began walking towards you, intending to retrieve the now-pilfered phone. You and your friends screamed more than a few choruses of “DON’T FUCKING TOUCH ME/HER.” I hadn’t touched you; we were on a crowded New York street, standing directly in front of a pizzeria with a huge, clear front window and half a dozen patrons inside.

I picked up my girlfriend’s phone, she was calling from one of her friend’s phones and wanted to know what was going on. Roughly thirty seconds after I informed her of the basics of our situation, I saw your countenance assume that pure, unmistakable expression of absolute, palpable terror that one can only adopt in the face of being charged on a city street by three twentysomething Long Island girls, dressed as Peg Bundy and “Titanic’s” Jack and Rose, respectively. You must have been pretty scared because you started crying and bounded sloppily into the pizzeria. I, my girlfriend and her friends, and your friends, followed you. My constituents chased you around the pizzeria, calling you a “bitch” and other ladylike epithets while I blocked the door, barring the exit. Literally backed into a corner at this point, you did naught but cry more violently while still demanding your twenty dollars. Thinking back, I really do admire your tenacity; I would have probably given the phone back but you must have really, truly wanted that twenty.

The owner of the pizzeria forced my party outside while I dialed ‘311’ to ask for the police and report a theft. Your friends reposed at tables while you remained in the back corner by the bathroom door, crying and enduring shouts from a few of the patrons, who were lambasting you to “just give him the fucking phone back and get out, already.” You took out my phone and started calling someone on it. I later found out that you’d called my mother around ten times, crying hysterically, asking why we were “being so mean” to you, and telling her that we were trying to “beat [you] up.” You little tattletale, you.

A few short moments later, the police were in full abundance. It must have been a particularly slow Halloween night because the force saw fit to spare us no less than a dozen of its most capable, well-mannered, intelligent officers. As the owner of the pizzeria emerged from behind the counter, the officers separated the parties and mine went outside to deliver our account of the situation. We quickly learned you’d informed the police that my girlfriend and her friends had hit you which was, of course, a complete fabrication.

The police asked everyone for identification and it was at this point that I reached into my back pocket to grab my wallet. It wasn’t there. I checked my jacket pockets, the ones outside and inside the coat, and it wasn’t there, either. I panicked. Where the fuck was my wallet? I asked my girlfriend if she had it; she didn’t. The officers searched your purse and you didn’t have it. Where was it? It was then that my mind flashed with sheer, horrific realization. The bums. As I’d argued with you, there were so many gathered around, all standing so close to us, so intent on observing the fracas. They’d seen me take the wallet out of my back pocket to offer you the six dollars and they’d seen me replace it. The goddamn, fucking bums.

The police told me that I’d have to report the theft to the local precinct and furthermore, that I could not press charges on you, as my girlfriend and her friends had been accused of striking you in trying to retrieve my phone. Prodded by the police, you walked out of the pizzeria and said tearfully, “I just wanna give this to you,” handing me my iPhone. Gone was my wallet, gone were the bums who’d nicked it from my pocket. And soon you’d be gone, too, off into the waning Samhain night.

The bum who pick-pocketed me made off with six dollars, two canceled debit cards, and one really nice Tommy Hilfiger wallet (luckily, my license was in my jacket pocket, as we’d been barhopping that night). I retired to a nearby bar to lick my wounds; my girlfriend bought me a PBR and a triple of Seagram’s, neat. As for you, I don’t know where you went but I hope, you troglodytic guttersnipe, that a stranger does something terrible to you, something unfortunate and inconvenient. I don’t believe in karma or subscribe to any belief, really; I don’t purport to be any sort of moral compass but you, lady, are absolutely inept, both morally and pragmatically. You are a denizen of a level in the contemporary hell of modern living that is reserved for people who mistreat complete strangers–you’re a very, very bad person.

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