I love buying new mobile phones

After the miraculous disappearance of my backpack in June, I replaced most of the stuff, including getting an HTC Dream to replace my iPhone 3G. The phone arrived about two weeks ago. I celebrated a friend's birthday on Friday evening, and on Saturday I found myself writing this email:

I have to buy another mobile phone because some dude decided he wanted mine, and took it by force. I was almost home last night, after being out for a friend's birthday. It was almost 3am, and between the bus stop and my apartment (400m) a guy started talking to me, nicely, and he asked me if I had a cell phone. Me, being a dumbass, said "yes". I may have had it in my hand; I don't remember exactly, but at some point I took it out of my pocket and had it in my hand, and he said "cool, let me see" and just grabbed it. He actually walked next to me for like 50 meters still talking to me, and me telling him to give me my phone back. Then I just grabbed it back and ran, but he caught my shirt and swung me around and started hitting me. I got thrown on the ground as I slipped out of my shirt which he was holding onto, and the phone slipped out of my hand. We both grabbed it at the same time, and I ended up coming up with only the back of the phone, the battery cover. He had the rest. At this point, I was sitting shirtless on the side of my street (my own street!) with him standing over me telling me to give him the battery cover. I just said "what?" and acted like I didn't have it, because it was dark and I didn't know if he could see. I also briefly considered my options, which weren't too many. He asked me again, and I said "what?" again, but in the end, I just gave it to him because I was on the ground bleeding, and he was obviously winning. I'm not sure if he kicked me in the head before or after that, but he did it at least once.

I told the police I wasn't unconscious, but now I'm not sure, because I don't remember seeing the dude running away. If I was, it was only a few seconds. The police station was only 300-400 meters away, so I ran there and told them. They called it in to the dudes on the street, I guess, with a description of the dude and the girl that was with him. I filed the report, and after a few minutes the paramedics showed up. I guess I was bleeding noticeably from my head, and there was blood on my face and hands. So, of course it was really convenient that the police station was so close, but the hospital they took me to was pretty far away. That means after they cleaned me up and the most inept x-ray technician ever made images of my head, I had to wait well over a half hour for the bus, and then it took me at least an hour to get home.

So now I'm sitting here with a big white bandage covering my head, which I have to leave on for three days, and then I can't wash my hair for ten, but I'll probably do it earlier. So today I got a new SIM card to put in my old phone (it's getting a lot of use this summer) and I was wearing what was basically a winter hat the whole time I was shopping. People were looking at me funny, but not as funny as this morning on my way back from the hospital.

So that's that story. I'll probably be more careful in the future, but maybe not.

Some observations I'd like to make, after having a few days to think about it:

  • I was never scared, and I don't know if that's good or bad.
  • It's hard to outrun someone in flip-flops, even if you're in sub-4:00 1500m shape.
  • I walked a different, and darker, way home from the bus because I was hungry. I probably won't do that again.
  • I never through a single punch; I was completely focused on getting my phone in my hand and then getting away. I should have punched him somewhere where it really hurts. Maybe that would have been preferable.
  • What bothers me the most is that this guy won. I would much rather have beat the crap out of him and then had him arrested, but completely destroyed my phone than have "lost" the fight and kept my phone.
  • Three days later, I don't even notice the cut on my head except when I touch it on accident, but I keep discovering new bruises, including a weird soreness in the bone between the nostrils of my nose. There's no visible bruise or swelling there.
  • At the police station this morning, as I was bringing them the IMEI number from my phone, the officer who took the report of my stolen backpack walked in and recognized me, having remembered me and my stolen backpack and phone from two months ago. Both he and the officer I was talking to today asked me how I liked Austria now, and then wished me better luck in the future.
  • The possibility of a knife or other weapon is the main reason why, if this happens again, I'd probably still just [try to] run away.
  • There was a pretty girl in a pink skirt with the guy when he started talking to me. She probably saw the whole thing, and will probably still hang out with the guy even after what she saw. Maybe she'd seen it before. She's just as bad as he is.

Does anyone else have any comments, suggestions, or stories?


RM said...

Here's my comment:

You lived in Baltimore for a little over the year. We have a pretty high rate of crime and one of the highest violent crime rates. Bad things happen on the streets surrounding your home. I don't think anything really bad happened to you while you were here.

You have lived in Austria for a little longer than that and mostly without incident, but now there are two in the span of a few weeks.

The conclusion I have drawn is that Austria is a worse place to live and that you would be better off living here, or in Chicago, or just about anywhere.

Nevertheless I empathize with your situation and hope that you do your best to minimize the chances of this happening again - i.e. less traveling solo very late at night.

fbg said...

I'll admit that my backpack getting stolen was because of me being overly trusting. But, yeah, this was the worst crime that's happened to me.

The second worst crime was a brick through my window and a lot of my stuff gone in Oxford, Ohio, in March 2005. Baltimore definitely has more crime than anywhere else I've lived, but this stuff can happen anywhere.

I'll still hang out late, and I only see one rather unlikely alternative to going home by myself, so I'll just watch my back a little better, and take the busy roads home. I should have done that, anyway.

RM said...

If your game was sharper, you wouldn't be going home alone. YOU KNOW WHAT I'M SAYING?


Tristan said...

I had two guys try and take my phone once around 7am in Madrid. It was very similar to what happened to you. I was coming home after a LATE night, and two guys behind me asked me for a light as I was walking and texting. I said I did not have a light and walked on. I then heard them following me and decided to let them past so I stopped and stepped over to the other side of the sidewalk. They came around me and asked me if I had any change, I said no and then they said "well what about your movil"? I then understood what they wanted and started to run away. One hit me on the head with his moto helmet and started running after me. I have to say I was scared shitless and just ran very fast (I had Tevas on). I outran them and they left me alone. This was right outside my apartment also, which was in one of the nicer areas of the city.

Lessons learned:
1)Don't walk down dark streets late at night texting.

2)Be prepared to flee and flee fast.

fbg said...

That sucks, Tristan. I was partially following your rules already, though. The street wasn't that dark; there were other people around, like the idiot in the hot dog stand thirty feet away who didn't do anything except point me to the police station. The guy's just lucky he caught the back of my shirt just as I ran, or else I probably would have gotten away.