Posted on September 30, 2011 by Vivi in EXPAT, VIVI'S VIEW

When I mentioned to people that I had never been robbed in Buenos Aires – I always got the same response – a smirky cast of the eyes to the side, a laugh and a simple response; ‘No, you haven’t been robbed YET.’

Well three weeks ago I lost my innocence and completed another step in this seemingly unending rite of passage to comfortable expatriation.

My phone was stolen.  I was standing at the bus stop, headed home after work around 7pm.  I was in a line of people and the sun had just set.  I was in the middle of Palermo Soho.  I pulled out my phone to text my bestie and get some info about this gorgeous doctor she is dating when a man on a bike came up from behind me, ripped my phone from my hand and then sped off with my it.  I stood there, stupified, and I watched him peddle away in a state of complete shock.

I wasn’t mad about the phone initially.  I was annoyed because I lost all my phone numbers.  I was a bit homesick because I could no longer text my friends and family back home using WhatsApp.  Mostly I felt relieved that it was just my phone, and that the robbery had been non-confrontational.  I dislike confrontation.

But when I had to deal with the repercussions, I started to become extremely angry at this thief and became readily willing to pay him exorbitant amounts of money just to get my phone back.  I would have been happy to make him a competitive offer for whatever amount he was going to sell it for on the streets.

Living in another country, with a foreign language and culture often makes simple, easy and commonly taken for granted situations – like getting a new phone – extremely difficult, convoluted, complicated and time consuming.  It isn’t that things are particularly more difficult here then back home, its just that things are done in a different way.  Learning the new system has been a challenge.

The first situation was finding a new phone.  I wanted to replace my Blackberry Curve – but just my luck, thanks to Argentine  importation regulations the entire country is out of Blackberry Curves.  So I had to find a used one on Craigslist that would suffice in the meantime.  Craig you never fail me.

The second situation was that the phone contract is not in my name.  In order to sign a contract one must have residency here, which I do not.  (does anyone know a lawyer that can help me that by the way?)  The phone is in the name of my ex-boyfriend, who sweetly let me use his identity to get a cell phone back when we were dating.  So in order to get a new chip for my phone I had to have the post breakup meet up and ask for a huge favor.  I had not seen him since I ended our long term relationship six months ago.  I was not looking forward to this.

After a tense and uncomfortable obligatory coffee date with the ex …. (learn from my mistakes ladies, if your cell phone contract is in his name, let him down easy.)  I got my new cell phone chip, only to power it up and discover that it didn’t work.  This is about the time when my patience really began to be tested.  So after having just gone through this awkward situation of having to ask my ex for a huge favor, I have to ask him to go back to my cell phone provider for a second chip.  He was not as nice about it this time.

So finally, three weeks later I have a phone again.  Honestly, living without a cell phone was pretty nice.  I never knew what time it was – so I never worried about being late.  I never had that feeling of disappointment you get when checking your phone every 15 minutes to see that no one texted you.  I finally learned my landline number.  Friends left notes with my doorman when they couldn’t get a hold of me – which made me look cool in front of my doorman.  I never had to call anyone back.

This was therapeutic to write.  I hope you learn from my lesson and don’t use your blackberry on the street and be nice to ex-boyfriends, you never know when you might need them.

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  1. so sorry to hear of your baptism in in bike robbery.

  2. the other thing you have to look out for is hands dipping into your pocket or purse on the subway (very common), and, two men on one motorcycle on the street (even more common)–there the one on the back rips the object or package out of your hand and the motorcycle speeds off…sometimes the man on the back of the bike gets off the motorcycle behind you, the man driving rides along the curb following him, then the man on foot comes up behind you and cuts the straps off your purse or your backpack, or uses a shank to cut off your watch, then he simply turns and runs a couple of steps to the moving motorcycle, leaps onto the back, and the both of them are gone in traffic or around a corner in a couple of seconds.


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