Please wipe me clean! I’ve felt that is what my iPhone and iPad devices have been screaming all week. I’d very much like to comply, but I can’t get to them. Only a few hours after the Alpha Device post last week, I was mugged and my bag containing those devices, among other things, was stolen.
I was having a late dinner Sunday evening in a relatively safe area. Caesar salad with lots of goop and a whole avocado. It was delicious as I ate grossly involved with a book on my iPad. I almost never go walking in a foreign country with both devices in the same bag. The iPhone was already tucked in the bag when I left and I threw in the iPad for dinner entertainment.
The distance from the restaurant to where I stay is about 1/2 mile, in an area not known for problems. It was 10 pm when I finished dinner and started heading home. During the walk, the second (or 3rd) reckless thing I did was take a short-cut through a spottily lit park.
The entire park is a somewhat steep hill. As I was walked down a sloping concrete path, a male, about my height, jumped out of the path-side bushes in a dark area and jumped me. A second later, another guy leapt out from the other side. Before I knew it, two guys had pounced on me. One second I was thinking of the week’s plans, the next about out to get out of the situation I was in. My first self-preservation reaction was fighting them. I forced both of them to the ground as I tripped over my flip flops on the uneven slope.
When in situations like this, your mind races. It went from protecting my stuff to protecting myself, not wanting to give up the bag, to the realization that if something happened to my jaw I’d be in big trouble. Then one of them pulled a knife and held it over my shoulder. It didn’t take much imagination of stab wounds before I quickly said “ok, ok, take the bag.” As we stood up and the knife still a threat, they ripped the shoulder bag off me and told me to empty my pockets. As I was in the motion of emptying one pocket, a yell emanated from one end of the park startling them. Before they could take my front pocket wallet and id, they ran.
I took a deep breath and watched the thieves run out of the park. As I looked around in the bushes for my flip flops (they evidently scattered for cover), I felt lucky that I had my id, my jaw intact, and no stab wounds. I left the park in the opposite direction the attackers ran. No sooner had I left the park then a guy approached me asking if I wanted to buy weed. He didn’t want to take no for an answer even though my shirt was ripped open and I was slightly limping. I wanted to tell him to do something anatomically impossible, but I just kept walking. I owed him no explanation such as I don’t do drugs or that even if I did, I was just robbed and had no money on me. He got my facial message and shortly left me alone.
I proceeded to a nearby police station and reported the incident before retreating to the apartment. At least I still had my laptop and internet where I could initiate the device wiping (erasing) process and call the phone company to cut service. The most valuable thing stolen was the information on the devices. And no, I didn’t have the keypad locks activated.
Precisely how the device wiping process works is not something the technical support staff at either Apple or the phone company seem to be overly knowledgeable. Twenty four hours after the devices were instructed to be wiped, they were still not showing wiped. There could be several reasons for that but still, after calling Apple four times I was given four different versions of how the wipe works. One said it happens only through the wifi. Another said it happens through cellular data, but only if the line is active. Another said the wipe instructions would go through even in airplane mode. And finally the fourth apple rep told me how it actually works.
On the phone company side, you can either suspend your line for theft or block the device or both. But if you suspend before the wipe instructions are sent, then cellular data wipe won’t work. One person at the phone company told me about their own version of a wiping app. She told me it was too bad I didn’t have that loaded. I wanted to say thanks for not telling me sooner.
For some strange reason at around midnight, one of the delinquents used my local phone and called the last number I had called earlier that day from my call log. Astutely recognizing something was amiss, the person I had called found me available on skype and called me on my computer. After I explained what happened, she did me the favor of calling the Colombian phone company and blocking my local device and number.
The have a slang expression in Colombia: dar papaya, which means that when you give or offer papaya, it will be eaten. What I did was to offer papaya. It was my fault. I should never have been walking alone with valuables through a not-well-lit park late in the evening. I offered up a ripe papaya and it was promptly taken and eaten.
The entire episode was a fruit basket of valuable lessons. One being that I need to be even more alpha with the next device(s). They both didn’t need my company at the same time. Another lesson – don’t walk late night through parks holding an outstretched papaya wearing flip flops.
I walked away from the melee a little scuffed up, but lucky that the two thieves ran before consuming the entire piece of fruit. What was I doing walking late at night in a foreign country where gringo shines brighter than a street lamp? I was giving papaya.
Of one thing is certain. The papaya here is superbly delicious, and one is much better off consuming it.
No dar papaya.