How I Became Pen Pals With the Kid Who Stole My iPhone

Was it phishing? Or was it friendship?

Erica Buist
Human Parts

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Credit: GrafVishenka/iStock/Getty Images Plus

I’d always wanted to go to India. So I was pretty outraged when, in 2011, my iPhone went without me.

I think it’s only fair to place around 5 percent of the blame on my friend Blair. A group of us were in a London wine bar pretending to be grown-ups, searching for more sophisticated ways to say “second-least-expensive bottle” while tossing around wine terms we’d heard in a semi-ironic attempt to impress our waiter. “Oaky.” “Fruity.” “Hmm… chewy.”

What actually did impress him, however, was Blair, a man so charming he wins people over basically just by being present. The waiter rewarded his charm by bringing us the leftover wine from other people’s tables after they’d left; a quarter bottle here, a half bottle here. Now this one is really nice…

I was drunk, is what I’m saying.

Was there a professional phone thief pilfering smartphones in that bar? Or did an opportunist spot one teetering on the edge of the table while its hapless owner twirled in circles trying to put her coat on by shoving her arm into the hood? Whatever it was, by the time I turned around, my phone was gone.

I called my carrier from a friend’s phone, and they locked my phone, assuring me it…

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Erica Buist
Human Parts

Writer, journalist, author. First book THIS PARTY’S DEAD coming in Feb 2021 from Unbound. Preorder: unbound.com/books/deathtivals