I Followed My Stolen iPhone Across The World, Became A Celebrity In China, And Found A Friend For Life

This really weird thing happened to me. Then it got even weirder. Then it turned insane. Do I have a story for you. [This is the epic continuation of “How I Became a Minor Celebrity in China.”]

I’ve broken this story up into three chapters. It should never have gone this far, but the internet works in mysterious ways. None of this should have ever happened. It makes absolutely no sense at all. It’s truly crazy.

Chris Ritter for BuzzFeed

LONG, LONG AGO (January 2014 lol)…

LONG, LONG AGO (January 2014 lol)...

Bro Orange

THE STORY BEGINS in early 2014 when I was in the East Village at my favorite bar, EVS. I’ve said this multiple times so far, but I swear it’s on St. Marks and it’s not douchey. Also don’t start going there, because it’s my bar and it’s impossible to find a not-crowded bar in New York City with a good happy hour. So yeah, don’t go there.

Anyway, it’s like February 2014 and I’m out drinking my $20 happy hour bottle of wine when someone comes into the bar and swipes my phone off the table. Honestly, it’s genius. I applaud the person who took my phone. I bet you he stole 20 phones that night. It’s the perfect place to steal phones. Bravo. Genius.

Anyway, I call my phone and it goes straight to voicemail: the international sign of death. I was never seeing that phone again. The phone was gone.

About a year later…

I’m sitting on my couch with some friends going through my photo stream on my new phone. That’s when I see a ton of pictures I didn’t take, most memorably about 20 selfies of some dude and an orange tree. Hilarious and scary.

I obviously freak out, show everyone the pictures, and for an hour we all speculate about what the fuck is going on with my phone. We come up with a bunch of theories that basically revolve around crossing iCloud photo streams, North Korea hackings, and hauntings. My phone is possessed.

For a month, this orange man’s pictures keep on showing up on my phone. I start to get used to the daily photo updates, and it becomes fun for me to check my phone and see this guy’s pictures. It’s mysterious.

Some of the pictures that showed up on my phone included hundreds of pictures of fireworks (WHO DOES THAT?!)…

Some of the pictures that showed up on my phone included hundreds of pictures of fireworks (WHO DOES THAT?!)...

…little hands…

...little hands...

…and a truly terrifying picture of a crouching person through a really dirty window.

...and a truly terrifying picture of a crouching person through a really dirty window.

I don’t really do anything about these mystery photos until I talk to a friend of mine and he scares the shit out of me. He asks me if I lost a phone recently. I didn’t recently, but over a year ago. He says that my phone is in China. That’s where most stolen iPhones end up.

Boom. Story solved. My stolen iPhone is in China and this man is still logged into my iCloud.

I go to the Apple Store and sure enough, my old iPhone is online. I delete the phone. It is essentially a brick. The man who has my phone cannot use it anymore.

I’m relieved and happy. I solved the mystery.

Story over.

Chris Ritter for BuzzFeed

Then I become famous.

I made a post on BuzzFeed and called it “Who Is This Man And Why Are His Pictures Showing Up On My Phone?” I publish. That’s it.

Within hours, I’m getting tweets from people in China. The story has been translated and put on Weibo, which is essentially Chinese Twitter. It’s blowing up. They are helping me find orange tree man.

I become the biggest topic in China.

I become the biggest topic in China.

I’m bombarded with tweets saying I’m famous there lol.

I'm bombarded with tweets saying I'm famous there lol.

Twitter

Hours later, they find the orange tree guy.

Hours later, they find the orange tree guy.

Meanwhile, I join Weibo. After the first day I had over 50,000 followers. Within a week, over 100,000.

Meanwhile, I join Weibo. After the first day I had over 50,000 followers. Within a week, over 100,000.

Weibo

That’s where I start talking to him. Introducing Brother Orange.

That's where I start talking to him. Introducing Brother Orange.

Chinese Twitter has given the man who had my phone the name Brother Orange. In Chinese culture, brother is a term of respect. A brother is a really good friend. The orange part comes from the selfies. Chinese Twitter loved them too.

Anyway, Brother Orange and I exchange messages for weeks. He invites me to visit him. The Chinese internet is watching. I set a date: March 18.

Anyway, Brother Orange and I exchange messages for weeks. He invites me to visit him. The Chinese internet is watching. I set a date: March 18.

Weibo

Brother Orange accepts.

Brother Orange accepts.

Weibo

I play around on Weibo.

I play around on Weibo.

A bunch of people start asking me to teach them English, so I start making videos.

A bunch of people start asking me to teach them English, so I start making videos.

They start calling me a “doubi.” I would get thousands of comments calling me this. It would follow me to China. It basically means like Mr. Bean. I embrace it.

They start calling me a "doubi." I would get thousands of comments calling me this. It would follow me to China. It basically means like Mr. Bean. I embrace it.

Me and Bro Orange keep talking with each other on Weibo. We exchange messages daily. We now have actual fans who want us to fall in love together. I can’t believe this happening.

Me and Bro Orange keep talking with each other on Weibo. We exchange messages daily. We now have actual fans who want us to fall in love together. I can't believe this happening.

Hello, China.

Chris Ritter for BuzzFeed

Chapter three on the next page

Page 2 of 8


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