I woke up on Saturday, March 15 still pretty bummed about not having an iPad, but trying to stay positive. I again, lounged around for most of the morning. I was in the middle of a Skype call with a friend when my cell phone rang. I didn't recognize the number, but answered anyway. Here is the convo:
Guy: "Is this Stephanie?"
M: "Yes. Who is this?"
G: "Did you lose your iPad? I'm so sorry. A man sell it to me for 400 Ringgit ($130 USD). I don't know anything about iPad. I use for 2 hour and then it locked. Then it say your name and phone number. I'm so sorry.
M: "Oh, WOW! Thanks for calling."
G: "I want to give back to you. But, how about my money? I pay RM 400."
G: "I will give you back your iPad, but can you give me RM 400? I already pay for iPad. I do not know anything about iPad. It locked. It says your name. I cannot use it."
M: "Yeah, I know it is. I did that. I locked it."
G: "What about my money? I do not know what to do. This is such a terrible experience. Oh man, oh man. So terrible. What about my money? I want give you back your iPad."
M: "Ok, let me call my detective and I'll call you back." [For future notice: Don't say this.]
M: "I will call the detective and see what he says to do. Then I will call you back."
M: "The POLICE. I need to call the police. I had to make a police report yesterday when it was lost. I want their advice on what to do."
M: "Okkkk. Where can I meet you to get this back?"
G: "I will give you back your iPad. What about my money?
M: "My iPad was stolen from me. I do not want to pay to have it back."
G: "But, that f***** man. I hate him. Oh man, so trouble. So terrible. That f***** man give me iPad stolen. I never do this before. I next time never do this again. Oh so terrible. What about my money?"
M: "Do you know the man who sold it to you?"
G: "No. Do not know. Just man."
M: "Yeah, next time you should probably only buy iPads from the store." [Apparently I watch too many cop shows. I was staying ridiculously calm and saying such brilliant things. Haha.]
G: "I give you your iPad back. You give me RM 400."
M: "No. I will give you 300. You give me the iPad. Where do you want to meet?"
G: "Where you live?"
M: Think fast. Think fast. "Uhh...SS12". It's a huge neighborhood, it'll probably be fine. :)
G: "Ok. Do you know the hospital there? In front, there is a bus stop. I will meet you at bus stop. You bring RM 400, I will give you iPad.
M: "I'm not going to meet you at a bus stop. And I'm only going to give you RM 300."
G: "Where you want to meet? Let's meet at bus stop."
M: "No. That's not safe. I want to meet somewhere public. I want to meet inside. Let's meet at Starbucks at Subang Parade." You should know where that is... you were there yesterday, jerkface. ;)
G: "Ok. Subang Parade have bus stop. I meet you at the bus stop."
M: "I will meet you at Starbucks inside Subang Parade in one hour."
G: "Why 1 hour? You going to call police. I don't want trouble. I don't want trouble. It is all mistake. I don't want trouble."
M: "I need to shower. I will see you in 1 hour." ...oh yeah, and I need to call the police.
Literally, this convo went on for about 15 minutes. Saying essentially the same things over and over. I kept assuring him that I wasn't going to meet him at a random bus stop that would allow me to be taken/injured/robbed or give him a quick escape. He kept saying no police/only bus stop/RM 400/etc. Finally, I said, "Ok. I will meet you at McDonald's at Subang Parade at 12:00."
G: "McDonalds on ground floor?"
M: "Yes. At 12:00."
G: "I come to bus stop. I do not know that place." WHAT? You just told me exactly where it was! Hahaha.
M: "Ok. McDonald's at 12:00. See you there."
G: "Ok. I will call you later to meet." Click. Ok, wait. Does that mean yes McDonald's or no McDonald's?
So, naturally, I called the detective immediately and gave him the lowdown. His first questions were, "How much did he ask for?" and "Where is he going to meet you?" So, apparently this happens a lot. I told him all the info and he said, "Ok, call me when you have a meeting point. Bye." Wait, what? I just told you, McDonald's at 12! I texted the man again to confirm McDonald's at noon. His phone was off. Sketch. I hurried to get ready, sent a quick update email to my family, called my coworkers to be praying, and drove to the mall. At this point, I began to shake. Mildly, but shaking nonetheless. How in the world did I get in this situation?! Also, I hadn't eaten anything at this point in the day, so that probably wasn't helping. After I parked, I began to empty my wallet because I didn't want to chance anything else being taken. Apparently, though, all of my brain power was being used to stay calm and level-headed because I took the things out of my wallet and put them & the wallet into my purse. Then, took my purse with me to the meet-up. Oops. :) So, I'm not a pro at this crime-solving thing yet, and I'm ok with that.
I called the man back. He answered. I told him I was here. He said, "Ok. Come to bus stop." Ugh. Not this again.
M:"Can't you come in to McDonald's? I don't feel safe at the bus stop by myself. I am a girl."
G: "I will not hurt you. I am by myself, too. I swear to God. I will not hurt you. I just want this to be done. So terrible experience. Come to bus stop." Ok, I can see this is not going anywhere. Just agree to it and pray, pray, pray.
M: "Ok. I'm coming."
Before heading out to the bus stop, I called the detective to see his location. He assured me he was there.
He said, "You should make him come inside."
I said, "I tried. He will not. Are you here?"
Detective: "Yes. I am here. You are at Subang Parade bus stop?"
M: "Yes. Well, not yet. I am at the mall. I need to cross the street. I am in front of TGIF."
D: "Ok. Ok. Ok. I am there. Do not give him money. Make him keep talking. We will come over then."
I go stand outside, watching the bus stop. There is a little old lady waiting and a guy laying down half asleep. Not my guy. I call him. "I am here. Where are you?"
G: "Are you alone? Did you come alone? Did you bring police? I do not want trouble. Are you alone?"
M: "........yes." Jesus, forgive me. It's just a teeny lie.
G: "Ok. I am coming."
Called the detective to update him.
D: "Ok. I am here in the police car in front of you." I don't see any police cars. I don't see any cars with people in them. Hmmmm.
Guy called me back. This is where it got cray. Well, it was already crazy, but here it goes insane. Praise Jesus for a happy ending. Looking back, I should've probably done things differently. I pray that there isn't another time, but if there is, I'll definitely do things differently.
I texted the guy. He was past due. I asked him where he was and told him it was too hot to be standing out here. He called and said, "Look behind the bus stop. There is a carpark mission."
G: "A carpark mission. It's yellow. Do you see it?"
M: For some reason, I thought he was talking about a car dealership, and I was therefore utterly confused. "Ummm."
G: "A yellow carpark mission. Do you see it? Your iPad on top there."
This was repeated a few times before I assured him I had no idea what he was talking about. Then, are you ready? He said, "Walk to the right. Walk in front of TGIF." OOOOOOOK. So, you're watching me. This just got officially creepy. I did so. "Walk faster." No, thanks. It's 100 degrees and I'm already speed walking and internally freaking out. "Ok, now look across the street. Do you see the yellow carpark mission?"
Me: "No. I do not. Ooooooh, do you mean MACHINE? I still don't see it."
G: "Yes MISSION. Do you see? Take off your glasses, then you can see." You are FREAKING me out! I pulled my sunglasses to the top of my head and finally realized what "machine" he was talking about. It's a four-foot tall machine that manages people paying for their parking spot. It's similar to this, but obviously yellow.
On top of the "mission" was what looked like a blue bag. When my iPad was taken, it was in a bright pink case. Hmm.
Me: "Is it in a blue bag?"
G: "YES! YES! Blue bag. You see it? You come get the iPad, leave the money, and we are finished. Ok?"
Me: "Are you crazy? No way. I'm not coming over there by myself. Bring me my iPad."
G: "I don't want trouble. You get iPad, leave money, we finish. I don't want trouble. This terrible experience. Do you want your iPad back?"
Me: "Yes, I do. But, I don't want to die. I'm not coming over there. I don't know you. I don't know what you will do to me."
G: "No. You have baby. I have baby also. I not hurt you. You want your iPad." Well, that proves that he was on my iPad at least a little bit. My lockscreen and background are pictures of my nephew Ben (because he's the cutest thing ever!). I didn't correct him. I figured maybe him thinking I had a kid could play to my advantage.
Me: "I need to go the ATM to get your money."
G: "What? Why you not bring money to get iPad?"
Me: "Well, you told me to be at the bus stop in 10 minutes. I did not want to miss you. I do not have RM 300. I must go to the ATM."
G: "Ok. Go fast. 5 minutes. I don't want trouble."
So, I started walking into the mall and heard him over the phone say, "Go faster" and then hang up. As soon as I was inside, I called the detective to tell him what the new plan was... which I didn't actually know myself. I couldn't in my right mind imagine walking across the street by myself to do the 'drop'. But, I did want my iPad. I knew I couldn't convince him to come inside. I knew that if I took too long he'd spook. I was out of ideas. The detective said, "Tell him to come inside."
Me: "I told him that, he won't."
Alllllrighty. Thanks for your support? Went to the ATM, got 300 out, and called him again.
Me: "I don't think this is safe. Can you come inside?"
G: "No. It's safe. I will not hurt you. I swear to god. I will not. You have baby. I have baby. Bring the money."
Me: "Can I bring my friend?" I definitely didn't think this one through. My co-worker had originally volunteered to go with me, but thinking it'd be a quick and easy exchange at McDonalds with some po-po around, I declined. Little did I know it was going to turn into this. But, now, it was just me, alone at a mall, staring danger in the face.
G: "No." Oook. Then, this exchange is not happening. If 4 seasons of Criminal Minds has taught me anything, it's that they always want you alone when they have bigger plans.
M: "If I can't bring my friend, I'm not coming." What was I even talking about? I was at the mall by myself! Haha. One thought that seriously ran through my mind... should I pay some stranger to come with me? Hm. Nope, too much explaining necessary.
G: "Who is your friend?"
M: "Someone I work with."
G: "Ok. Ok. Bring your friend. Go fast." Click.
I got the money from the ATM and started walking slowly back to the door. I called the detective. No answer. I called again. No answer. My thinking was, he could walk in to the mall, and then walk out again with me as "my friend". No such luck. I kept walking. Heart beating out of my chest. I had no more stalling methods. I couldn't get hold of the detective to go get the iPad or even go with me to get the iPad. I guess the only remaining option was to do it myself. [Again, I KNOW I did a few things wrong. I already said I'd do it differently next time. No need for a lecture! ;)]
I walk out to the curb. Push the button on the crosswalk and stand waiting for what felt like 10 minutes, but was probably 1. Malaysians never use crosswalks and after living here 2 years, I usually don't either. But, I was definitely not in a rush to get across this street.
I crossed to the median. Looked around. Crossed again. Walked up 10 steps to the carpark 'mission'. Looked around. Didn't see a soul. Reached up and took my iPad out of a blue pillowcase. Made sure the iPad was mine with one eye will making sure I wasn't about to get shanked with the other eye. Tried to turn it on, but the battery seemed to be dead. I knew it was mine because there are some smudges under the screen protector in some identifiable locations. Put the money inside. Walked quickly down the steps and across the street (definitely didn't wait for a cross signal this time!!). When I was halfway up the walkway to the mall, I turned around and looked back. The bag was still there. I walked 10 more feet into the mall, turned around, it was gone. He's a quick, sneaky little bugger. I immediately called the detective to tell him I had my iPad back. This is where my faith in Malaysian PD completely disintegrated and my prayers of thanksgiving sky-rocketed.
Me: "I have my iPad back."
D: "You have it back already?"
M: "Yes. I went and got it and left the money."
D: "Oh, really? What does the man look like? Is he Chinese?"
M: ..................... "I didn't see the man." WEREN'T YOU WATCHING ME THIS WHOLE TIME?!?!?!
D: "You gave him money?"
M: "Yes, RM 300."
D: "Ok. I will call you later to get your statement."
And that was that. I went down to my favorite smoothie shop and ordered the largest one they had. I continued shaking for the next 30 minutes or so. I tried the iPad again, it worked perfectly. It had just been turned off and in my haste of not wanting to be killed, I hadn't held the on button long enough. The case was missing, but those are a lot cheaper to replace.
I've told this story to a few people. The first response is always, "Why did you leave the money?" Looking back, I probably didn't have to. I had the iPad. I could've just pretended to put something in or left a smaller amount. Here was my reasoning. He clearly knows what I look like. He's clearly done this before. I don't know what sort of weapons he is currently holding or what mindset he is in. He has my phone number. I don't know how he will react if he gets to the bag and it is empty. I'd prefer to pay the $100 and have my iPad back and be done with the whole situation than to fear for my life the remaining 3 months here. And now, knowing that I had absolutely no police back up, I'm even more glad that I left it.
So, just another story to add to my ever-growing list of adventures. Not one that I ever would've chosen to experience, and one I hope I don't ever have to experience again (or anyone!). I don't know, and probably never will, if the man I was talking to was in fact the one who stole the iPad or a partner-in-crime. Based on the phrases he used, the voices he used, and the whole scenario, I'd be VERY shocked if we were to find out he was really an innocent man trying to buy a cheap iPad. I did learn some lessons... be more cautious with my iPad, don't do random ransom drops in foreign countries alone, and God loves me and protects me even when I'm being stupid. :)