Sticky Fingers.

This morning I wanted to plug my phone in to charge it up for the day. The poor thing was so old – it’d carried me through the end of my undergraduate career, through nursing school, and through the beginning of my nursing career. I was heading out of my office for a minute, literally, to heat up my breakfast. Rather than leave it out on my desk, I stuck it in a drawer, under some papers, thinking at the time it was wrong to do, and yet, not knowing what else to do with it. What idiot would leave a phone out on her desk without being in the office to watch it?

I ate my breakfast and forgot about the phone. A student came in, reportedly because he threw up. Sticky Fingers denied wanting to go home, he just wanted to go back to class; however, with his dilated pupils and bloodshot eyes, I knew why. I left my office for less than two minutes to talk with the assistant principal about the fact that I had a student in my office who I knew was high, and wasn’t quite sure what to do with him. (At my last middle school, we let them sober up and return to class; this was the first I’d seen at this school.) The AP came into my office, met with the student, and sent Sticky Fingers back into his office; after a brief interrogation, he sent Sticky Fingers back to class. When the AP and I were alone, he agreed that the student appeared high, but there was nothing he could do about it.

It was only moments later that I opened my drawer and noticed my phone missing, and I notified the school secretary within minutes. They called Sticky Fingers, who’d by then returned to P.E., and the only other student that’d been in my office that morning back, at first siding with the students that they were innocent – until a campus monitor described my phone and confirmed that it was my phone she’d seen Sticky Fingers with moments after leaving my office.

Several hours later, including watching the campus security videos, calling the police department, and discussing the phone with witnesses, the AP confirmed it was Sticky Fingers that lifted my phone out of the drawer. Eventually – including hours of the campus police officer’s (the SRO –student resource officer)– the student admitted it and led them to my phone, which was by then destroyed and in pieces.

I may have taken more pity on the student had he not been taunting me while the police officer and AP were questioning his story, saying, “Excuse me, nurse, have you found your phone yet?” And, while I ignored him trying not to let him see my anger, “Why is the nurse not talking to me?” I have never wanted to punch a student like I did today, and I feel terrible for thinking so.

I’m out a phone, and, long story short, a phone plan as well. I asked the campus and P.D. to prosecute the student to the best they could…which isn’t much, besides a citation including a request for restitution that the police officer told me as kindly as he could that the student probably wouldn’t pay. But if anyone is reading this, they know I’m a softie: if that student hadn’t been taunting me, I likely would have taken pity on him and certainly not have asked to prosecute the child as best they could. That’s never the route I’d have imagined I’d take in this situation; but remembering what the student said to me (over and over, “nurse, have you found your phone?” while waiting for the investigation to finish), I couldn’t imagine saying anything else to the SRO.

I’m also out 5 years worth of phone numbers, text messages, and grainy pictures, including Obama’s first inauguration that I was present for. Nothing racy or exciting, but it’s impossible to not feel violated in this situation.

They can’t tell me what’s happened with the student, other than “the most we can do,” but another administrator showed me his discipline record: 6 years ago this same student lifted the principal’s cell phone, and his record is filled with too many to count of the similar offenses.

I’m also left with feeling a whole lot of sadness: I needed a new phone anyway, that’s not the point of this, but how sad is it that the same student I took pity on and was going to let go back to class high actually ruffled through my drawers and took my P.O.S. phone? I work my ass off for these kids, not always, but enough to be pretty sad about this incident, and though I can’t let a bad apple or two spoil the rest, it’s impossible to not feel quite jaded right now. Sticky Finger’s grandmother picked him up at 2 p.m., after all the mess had been mostly involved, in a zebra shirt, zebra pants, zebra boots, and appearing not at all fazed by the incident. How could this kid have chance?

Tomorrow and Friday are teacher work days; I’m going phone shopping, and trying not to let this ruin my impression of the rest of the kids. What a sad week; let’s hope I am rejuvenated by the next one. 


  1. Sorry to hear this. My office was robbed once :( It was a disaster for hours while the police fingered printed everything... Nothing personal of mine was taken but I still felt violated! For what it's worth I love my iPhone!

  2. Depending on how much the data on the phone is worth to you, and the likelyhood of a conviction and restitution, it should be possible to recover the data. I'd guess about $1000 for a commercial data recovery service to do it.

  3. So sorry to hear about the student and the phone. I'm in the Citizen's Police Academy in my town, and this week the SROs spoke. They said that they prefer prosecuting kids who break laws like that, as much as they can, hoping it will prevent future crimes and get the kid back on the right track. Doesn't sound like it will do much in this case...but hope you never feel bad about doing it.

    And remember that you HAVE made a huge difference to a LOT of kids...you probably won't know to what extent, but you have!!!

  4. I feel you on this one. Very frustrating I'm sure to have lost your phone, pics, numbers and so much more. It's like, for him life goes on, but for you, you're now left with having to spend energy and time and money to replace what you can and say goodbye to pieces that just can't be replaced now. So sorry about that experience.