It was 5pm and I wanted Oreos. I had thirty minutes left before I’d have to open Rice House for dinner service, and I still had a few items to prep before I was fully ready for customers. I could either ignore my Oreos craving or cave in, and run to my town’s sole and small stationery-grocery story by Rice House, and get a pack.
It was an easy decision. Being on your period means satisfying cravings. Period.
So I locked up Rice House and ran down the street and across the parking lot of my town’s center, Evergem, population basically-nothing-compared-to-Manhattan. There weren’t many people around outside as it was a cold and windy day, but I did notice one couple having a cigarette outside a nearby cafe. And there was one girl waiting for the bus at the local stop. I remember she looked cold and definitely not dressed warm enough.
iPhone in hand, I checked my Twitter account, and was about to open an email when I walked into the only store for miles where I could buy Oreos. Friendly faces greeted me and I spotted immediately shiny blue packages of O-R-E-Os waiting right there for me on the counter display. I put my iPhone down on the counter and grabbed a pack, just ONE pack mind you, and I paid for my purchase. My greedy little hands pushed the pack of Oreos in my coat pocket and I said goodbye to the cashier and turned, with my arm extended to open the door leading out.
A very young and very skinny girl with black hair down to her ass was on the other side of the door. She looked like a slightly lighter-skinned-but-anorexic Nicki Minaj. I held the door open for her, smiling, and I gave her the once-over. I can’t help but judge people by what they’re wearing, and this girl was a walking mess of fashion faux pas. Very Minaj.
I’d smirked and left the store, crossing the street before realizing I’d left my iPhone on the counter at the store! I’d turned to cross back over when faux-Minaj ran out and down the street – loudly – in her four-inch faux leather ankle boots and metallic jewelry. She even turned and looked right at me. And still I’d thought nothing of it, because, maybe she was just in a rush? I was in a rush myself, needing to collect my iPhone and then get the hell back to Rice House for opening…
When I walked back into the store my eyes went directly to the counter where I’d put my phone down. It wasn’t there. Duh. I realized that chick had actually been running away with my phone. And now she was gone. Fuck. I felt so stupid, but not stupid enough to stop the ideas spinning in my head.
I saw there was a surveillance camera in the store and I asked the owner to go through footage from the last ten minutes. She got started right on it. I used her phone to call my husband Davy. Then I ran back outside, feeling helpless, knowing I should probably call the police too, and at least report the incident.
But then I turned and noticed that at the bus stop was the same girl who’d been waiting there the whole time. I approached her.
“Did you see the girl that just ran out of here?!”
The girl answered, “Yes, she’s my friend.”
“What?! Well, your friend just stole my phone.”
The girl, “Melissa,” looked suitably shocked and I actually believed she was a good person despite having a thief for a friend. I couldn’t believe my…luck?
“Did she get in a car or leave by foot?! Which way did she go?” I was basically screaming at this point.
Melissa told me that the thief, “Ani,” got into a grey Mercedes and took off, and that Ani lived a few blocks away from a supermarket close by. Melissa was very helpful and even offered to call Ani. I needed a phone with which to call the cops, but I didn’t want to take my eyes off Melissa, so I took a few steps over to the cafe next door. The couple from earlier was outside smoking again so I quickly explained the situation and procured one of their phones to call the cops with.
Granted, the police station was literally around the corner from where I was standing – because my town is that small – but I just didn’t want to let Melissa out of my sight. It turns out it wouldn’t have mattered if I’d run to the police station, because the police station is close on Saturdays. Yes. Closed. On Saturdays and Sundays and holidays. Because this is Evergem.
Nevertheless, I called the “911” equivalent here in Belgium. I explained as best I could in Dutch what had happened and I was told a police unit would be arriving at the scene of the crime asap. Meanwhile, Melissa had hung up the phone with Ani, who of course denied stealing my phone. Uh-huh.
Melissa’s bus eventually came and she had to go to work. I thought about detaining her by force but instead I asked her nicely to give me her contact information and to also hand over Ani’s number (and full name). Melissa actually complied. She turned out to be my savior. Without her and all the info she provided, my Oreos would have been worth nothing in the end.
Because when the police arrived, we checked out the video footage at the stationery store, and indeed we confirmed that the bitch Ani took my phone. She’d simply dropped her purse on top of my phone and then swiped it when she left. It was all on film.
But by then, my iPhone had been turned off and SIM card removed so the “Find My Phone” function wasn’t really useful, although I did manage to set a password on it remotely…
So I handed over Ani’s name and telephone number, and Melissa’s too, to the cops. My husband Davy arrived on the scene too, just in time to accompany me to the police station, which the cops opened the doors to just for me, and we filled out all the necessary paperwork. Deep down, I didn’t think I’d ever actually get my phone back.
And so I returned to Rice House a bit defeated, and iPhoneless, an hour later. I did have a flip phone on me though, an extra we keep around the house for our babysitter, that Davy brought with him. But I’d already lost an hour of business, and also any calls that may have come in for orders. My iPhone also serves as my business phone.
I felt like all was lost, and I couldn’t even bring myself to eat the stupid Oreos I fished out of my coat pocket. There was no way I’d enjoy them now…
I was serving my first walk-in customer of the evening when the police officers from earlier walked into Rice House. They had my phone! They’d tracked the thief down using her name and phone number and Facebook account! They went to her house, and she eventually handed the phone over albeit SIM-card-less, and claimed she never stole anything. She insisted that she had simply found it “somewhere.” No confession. No remorse.
Thankfully SIM cards are useless here, because they all come with a personal pin code known only to the owner…
The thing is, If she’d at least fessed up and maybe cried and apologized I would have been okay with simply seeing my iPhone again. But now I want more justice done… What kind of idiot steals shit from the town’s only grocery store when they actually live in said tiny town? I’m sure I’ll run into her at some point again, whether or not it’s in or out of court…
I hope to run into Melissa at some point so I can buy her a free meal at Rice House.
Oh, and I definitely won’t be having any Oreos anytime soon…