Dear man who stole my iPod:
I was getting off the train in Central Square, enjoying a podcast on my iPod, trying to slide it into one of the pockets of my bag, and down it went between the train door and the platform, into The Pit, as I learned it was called. There was that abrupt cease of sound and the tug on my ears that meant it was gone.
A girl just outside the train door looked worried but annoyed, since I was standing with one foot on the train and one foot on the platform, flustered. “What was that?” she said. “My iPod,” I said. And I think then you turned around. “Your iPod?” you said. The train doors closed and those inside watched me, their faces framed by the windows. I stepped back for the train to leave, and then found it, just under the overhanging edge, in The Pit.
This is what I was thinking: all of those songs. You don’t get your music back, even if you get a new one. They tell you to back up your music, but who does that? Maybe you do.
The three of us—your girlfriend was there then—stood on the lip of the platform, looking down. I could see it, under the overhanging edge, safe from trains. I had to point it out to you three times before you could see it, too. You were both so nice and concerned. You offered to jump down, but I’ve heard too many stories about how dangerous that is so I said no, no way, don’t do it. You suggested we put gum on a long stick and bring it up that way, which was a really dumb idea, sort of a Winnie the Pooh approach. And the thing is, I don’t remember what you looked like. I know your girlfriend was shorter than you, and that, if I remember right, you were wearing blues and reds. But see, I don’t look at people. I don’t really make eye contact, especially with strangers; I don’t even really see them if I can avoid it. Maybe this is a problem.
I had an appointment I was late for, and, frankly, I had to find a restroom, and I couldn’t find anyone in that station to help me, so I left the iPod there, that little flat pink square, my earbuds playing a Mormon Matters podcast to the sooty surface. On our way up, your girlfriend harassed you: “You could have been a hero,” she said. “You could have, but you were too scared. I’m so disappointed. So so disappointed.”
When I came back after my appointment, when Sam dropped me off while he found a place to park, I met Vivian, who had lipstick the same color as my iPod, as it turned out—a frosty pink—and she wore a tight MBTA uniform. Vivian said it was probably gone. It had been an hour, and if kids see something they want down there, they don’t hesitate, she said, they just jump down and get it. She called an inspector, who was on her way, and in the meantime she told me to look for it, so between trains I knelt down and hung my head over the edge, trying to find it. “It’s not there,” I said. “Be careful,” she said.
I stood on the edge of the platform, in the yellow stripe, and told her, “It’s okay. It doesn’t matter.” Trying to maintain the stiff upper lip, you know. She said: “Yes. It does.”
We left Vivian my number and said to call if it turned up, no reason to wait for the inspector when there seemed nothing to retrieve, and Sam and I took the escalator up to the surface again. It was deceptively cold, the wind wiping around the intersection, people flying by on bikes in coats, in May. When we passed a group of homeless people, I looked for my shiny iPod in their hands. What would I have done if they’d had it?
Once we’d crossed the street, a bald man stopped us, said, “The train lady, she wants to talk to you,” and there Vivian was, with the inspector this time, waiting for us next to a little glass hut that leads down to the trains.
“She got your iPod for you,” said Vivian, when we got back.
“She did? Oh wow, thank you so much.” I went to take it, but realized no one was offering it.
“What color is it?” asked the inspector, a woman who looked a lot like Vivian.
“It’s pink and square, like a frosty pink.”
“That kid had her come and fish it out,” said Vivian, pointing to her.
“Oh! So you really have it? That’s so great.” I didn’t reach out to take it this time.
“No, actually, I don’t have it. He had me fish it out, but he told me it was his, and so I let him take it,” said the inspector.
“You probably shoulda known it wasn’t true. What man would want a pink iPod?” said Vivian. She looked disgusted.
“It sounds like it must have been the same kid though, right? The one who said he’d help you? He knew right where it was,” said the inspector, dropping a clipboard to her side.
“She’s got a lot of religious podcasts on there, so I hope he listens to one for at least a second and feels guilty,” said Sam.
“Oh, it’s wiped clean by now. Wiped clear clean. But I’m a Christian too. I’m so sorry,” said the inspector.
“This is just too sneaky for me. He went to a lot of effort to make sure he got your stuff,” said Vivian. She pointed at me.
Sam and I walked away then, after thanking them, and somehow walking away was so much worse the second time. It was gone then, safe with you, not possibly going to turn up, just gone. And this felt bigger than an accident, it felt like a plot. You watched me leave and spent time, spent energy and a lie, and then took it home, my black earbuds still attached, all of it curled in the pocket of your coat.
“We’ll get another one, Babe. No problem.” Sam held my hand on our way to the car. “We’ll go tomorrow after you get off work. We’ll go now, if you want. Or I’ll clear out space on mine so you can add some of your stuff and use it on your commute. We’ll work it out, and you’ll get a new one, a shiny one, in whatever color you want. No problem. Don’t worry about it. Please don’t cry. Don’t cry.”