Hostage Negotiating 101

While visiting in Charleston, SC this weekend, a friend of mine lost her cell phone partying downtown. She was noticeably upset on Sunday morning, especially since her husband was due back home that afternoon, and she did not want anything to be awry. In an attempt to check her voice-mail messages someone answered her phone. She was both elated and confused at the same time, given her still clouded mind from the libations consumed the night prior.  Instinctively, she quickly set up a meeting point to retrieve the phone and when asked about a “reward”, I assisted her in saying $100.00.

Given that her husband is one of my best friends, I couldn’t let her go down to the Waterfront Park on her own. The mission was simple, get the phone back with as few casualties as possible. We headed down to the rendezvous point to meet her phone’s captors.  Before arrival at the park, we received intel from our main headquarters in Mt. Pleasant, that the captors were wearing black pants, black hoodies, and were in a hurry because they had to go back to their mama.

I wish the setting could be more ominous but upon arriving at the beautiful fountain on a day where the sunshine was bright and warm, we quickly spotted the captors. They were a group of “rose boys” disguising their ruse by diligently working their trade at the first set of picnic tables.  I sent my friend ahead with my phone to call her phone and set the trap. Using the 13 years of backyard ambushes with my neighbors as my experience, I stayed back and monitored.  The plan was simple, lure the boys further on the pier so they would only have one exit, past me. The call was made and …


out of the 4 “rose boys” the youngest answered her phone and directed her in. The oldest one, about 14, sat on the upper railing of the peer and monitored. I “darted” in on the group as my friend came from the opposite direction. There we were. Face to face with the 8-10 year old “rose boy posse”. Almost, fearlessly the young captor offered me a rose made of palmetto tree pieces until he realized my intentions were for his other wares.

I inquired about the phone. Actually, I told him to give me the phone. He asked about the money. I told him he stole the phone and should be happy that I don’t call police. The young, “rose boy posse” did not like the questioning of their morality as they held my friend’s phone for ransom. They said they found it fair and square. This probably had some truth to it considering my friends accounts of her night out. However, I pushed forward stating that they stole it and the police would have to believe me or them.  Blanket looks of confusion persisted throughout the whole group now, including myself as to the next step. The youngest captor and possessor of the phone, inquired as to an amount I was willing to pay. I said I would give him $20.00 and right when I was about to hand over the money, I realized we had no idea of the phone’s physical condition and function. The phone was made available for viewing and the transaction then went down, my $20.00 for my friend’s phone.

The oldest “rose boy” still perched on the pier snarled and I asked what his problem was. Some words of engagement were made but luckily my wits were about me and I decided to not get in a fight in public with a 14 year old. 

The captors most interesting move came as my friend and I were walking back to the car and laughing about the whole ordeal.  The young “rose boy” came up behind us saying, “Hey, you!” After about the third or fourth time I turned around.  The “rose boy” had remembered the initial $100.00 offered as a reward for the phone. Interestingly enough, I was impressed with his persistence but not with his position in the negotiating.  We had the captured phone in hand and he had already accepted the $20.00 offered for the phone.

Charleston is helping these young, “rose boy” entrepreneurs, better peddle their wares as illustrated in the video below.  They sure did make a quick $20.00 off my friend’s phone. The interesting issue would have been the break point of the depleting value of the phone and my friend’s desire to have that phone vis-a-vis having an excuse to go get a new phone.

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