So, I got mugged yesterday for my iPhone 4. Woo, my hazing is complete and I can now officially say that I am a true New Yorker!
Actually, the story has a happy ending. I had just finished a chess tournament at the Marshall Chess Club and was turning the corner of 10th Street onto Fifth Avenue when a guy approached me. It was 7 PM so it was still broad daylight (sunset is at 8 PM) and there were plenty of people milling about. He looked like one of those guys asking for spare change for the subway, so I got ready to ignore him: I had my headphones on and was fiddling with my iPhone so I figured I could walk right past shrugging my shoulders.
He straight up punches me instead! Talk about the element of surprise. It was very sudden, but I basically knew what was happening at that point. Still, I was thinking, “I’m in a nice part of Manhattan, there are people everywhere, it’s not even dusk, surely I’m not getting mugged.” As I was kind of staggering trying to deflect the punches he grabbed my iPhone and took off running. So, I took off after him!
I was screaming things like, “Somebody call the cops!” and, “Give me back my phone!” and, “Help!” Still, seeing as it’s New York City, I wasn’t really expecting anybody to help. I was pleasantly surprised, however, when a young woman with red hair joined the chase with me (I learned later that her name is Cristina).
I don’t think the mugger expected to rob a cross-country runner and I managed to run him down pretty easily within about a block. Cristina yelled, “Get him!” which was encouraging, and, let’s face it, pretty darn cool. How often do you get to yell, “Get him!” outside of the movies?
The mugger looked over his shoulder and saw that I was right at his heels and I guess he began to worry because he started saying, “Stay back, I’ve got a knife,” over and over again. But his hands were empty and it seemed pretty obvious that he was bluffing so I just grabbed him and pulled him to a halt. Cristina caught up and now it was two against one.
He tried to play dumb for a few seconds (“I don’t have your phone!”) but he acquiesced and gave the phone back and then took off. I didn’t go after him because I had my phone back and I really wasn’t looking for a fight. So, it’s a happy ending, and it turns out there really are some heroic pedestrians out there! Plus, I’ve discovered a new and unconventional method for making new friends in the City.
Well, that’s the end of the story, but it’s led me to think about a few things. First, Apple actually has a Find My iPhone feature which can locate a lost iPhone to within a few yards, as well as remotely lock it and delete all the data on it for protection. If the thief had gotten away and didn’t think to turn the phone off, perhaps the GPS could have been used to lead the police right to him? Second, owning the newest Apple gadget is apparently very dangerous, ha ha. He didn’t go for my wallet or anything, he went for my iPhone. I might have to be more careful from now on and consider not wearing Apple’s signature “please mug me” white earbuds. Oh well, live and learn, that’s New York City for ya.