I teach a class of 11 and 12 year olds web, blogging, Google and the like every Thursday evening.
En route to the centre yesterday (it’s in a particularly dodgy part of town) I decided to be uber-organised and book a taxi for my departure later on. I even remebered the number of Addison Lee, the taxi firm, without having to go on the web to look it up.
Chatting leisurely to the lady on the phone, I had almost completed my reservation when I felt my Nokia N95 slip away from my ear.
My first instinct was to reach around and pull a rather vindictive Karate move. I don’t practice regularly, but I still know the moves well. But I stopped myself as I thought that one of my students — seeing me walking to class — was playing a joke. It wouldn’t look too good, I decided, to turn around, disable the student and snatch back my N95 with his parent looking on in shock.
Imagine my surprise and amusement when I saw that it wasn’t one of my students — it was a lumberling fat bloke jogging away with my handset.
‘WHAT ARE YOU DOING, YOU IDIOT?’ I yelled at him.
‘I’M ONLY GOING TO DISABLE THE HANDSET!’
There were a group of this chap’s friends standing nearby. Maybe 8 or so. One or two on pushbikes.
‘Does he know what he’s doing?’ I asked them.
‘Did your fone get nicked mate?’ one of’em replies. I stared at him in the eyes for a few moments.
‘Does your colleague know how it works with mobile phones nowadays?’ I ask.
To wide-eyed looks, I explain the rudiments of IMEI and sim locking, ‘That means when he tries to flog it, the guy buying it will try to use it… and find it DUNT WURK.’
They didn’t seem to know this. One of’em turns to me, “He’s my cousin, I know him, I can get your sim card back for a tenner, mister?’
Ahh. A well trodden path of crime, I thought.
‘Sure, I”ll give you £20 if you get me sim card back,’ I offered.
‘No, just a tenner, mister, now. Give it to me now and I’ll go and get it off him.’
They must think my head buttoned up the back.
Well, I can understand why: I just let some total arse walk off with my N95.
I declined the offer and walked round the corner to the education centre. My students were wide-eyed with excitement — “Someone jacked your phone, Sir?”
I phoned the local Police. Having not had my handset stolen in stuch a stupid manner before, I wasn’t quite clear on the procedure. The chap at the local station asked me to dial 999.
‘I haven’t been stabbed or anything, it’s just a handset?’ I queried.
‘Yeah, but it’s a crime isn’t it sir?’
Very well. I phoned 999. The emergency mobile lookup worked nicely.
Two emissaries from the baddie who took my phone turned up on pushbikes: ‘Mister, we can get your sim card back for a tenner!’
‘No, I’m fine thanks,’ I replied.
‘What about all your valuable numbers, Mister? Don’t want to lose them doya?’
I smiled at the guy and motioned to the air, ‘My numbers are in the clouds.’ (I was referring to Zyb, to Good Mobile Messaging, to Fasthosts, to the fact I am more or less device independent. My data doesn’t reside on just one handset.)
Heh. That confused him and his mate.
‘But, for a tenner! We can get the sim back! Think about your numbers!’
Ahhh. Definitely a well used technique.
I walked into the centre as I explained that, ‘Mine are synched, I don’t need them back. Thanks.’
Within a few moments, plain clothed Police Officers arrived and I sat in the back and cruised the streets hunting for the chap. Very good service.
‘You’re remarkably calm,’ the lady from T-Mobile said, when I phoned to deactivate everything. I had my E61 you see. Never without a phone!
I smiled to myself, still feeling a Class-A idiot for letting the guy run off.
‘Well, I was getting slightly bored of the N95 and it was just a pointless crime.’
T-Mobile were extremely efficient. Good news.
I realised then that I was truly device independent. It is an arse to have lost the N95. But not a huge problem. Not a real issue. It hasn’t stopped my business in it’s tracks. I am using my 3UK Nokia N73 and my new T-Mobile sim arrives tomorrow. For other people, losing their handset is a total, total, total bind.
For me? Meh. Annoying, yes. I feel stupid for not slapping the arse. Although I doubt his friends would have reacted well to that.
I ended up doing what everybody else in the real world does: Just walking away.
I’m disappointed that this chap felt his best bet that early evening was to take my handset.
Mostly, I’m in a little bit of confusion that I didn’t feel more cheated, more outraged, more angry.
When the Police Officer radioed into his handset, ‘We’re onboard with the victim doing a cruise around the area,’ I thought, ‘Who’s the Victim?’
Definitely not me. I’m briefly inconvenienced but I’ll just buy another.
As for insurance, no. I don’t have any mobile insurance. I never bother. I think it’s the height of nonsense to pay £19 a month (which, I think I was quoted) to insure my handset…
First, I’ve got a ton of them and typically, I end up changing them like the wind.
Second, £19 a month is what I pay to T-Mobile for 1,000 off-peak minutes for one of my other accounts. That’s a WHOLE service plan, a month.
Third, I’m never stupid enough to use my phone in a dodgy area…………………