A great philosopher once said "everything you love and most of the people you love will be taken from you." That philosopher was me and I said that through a Facebook status last week. Last week a thing that I love was taken from me in just one more act of degrading victimization that white men suffer every day.
Every bicycle I have ever owned as an adult has been taken from me against my will. To those who run web macros searching for terms like "every" or "always" you will think this an exaggeration but mostly is not. I had three bikes stolen from me in college - one from my backyard, one from outside a classroom building and one on the surface of the sun. Two of them were unlocked, which means the ensuing anger was mostly directed at myself.
Leaving your bike unlocked is akin to a woman "asking to be raped" according to many of my serious cyclist friends. As someone who strongly condemns rape and the rape culture that puts the onus on women to prevent it, I of course reject this premise but nevertheless began to always lock my bike. It didn't help.
My next bike was stolen in two stages during my time in New York City. One day I walked outside, immediately began to sweat through my clothes and noticed the seat was stolen. "Shit!" I exclaimed to myself - uttering the first swear word of my life at age twenty-eight. The next day I walked outside, continued sweating and noticed the whole bike was gone - just the cut wire laying loosely wrapped around the light pole as a reminder of what had been.
Later in life when I felt comfortable enough to once again become a bike rider and owner, I lived in a gated apartment complex to protect me from bicycle thieves and the surrounding census blocks where people had a $9,000/year income. It worked for a few months but after going out of town for a week I returned to find both my tires missing. So I traded that bike in for a piece of shit that got rusted into the ground and actually hasn't been stolen from me - yet. And that's probably only because the gears and brakes don't work and a Haitian put a curse on it.
The bike that was stolen from me last week was the most special out of all these because it was the most expensive. When the only grandmother I've ever had (on mother's side - father was born of a jackyl) died last year she left my mother some money unofficially earmarked for me. I used to buy the best bike I had ever owned - an electric one. I liked that it was propelled by a battery and I thought it would help me cut driving out of my life. I did completely, except for a few trips a week to nearby theme parks and expensive chain restaurants like Bonefish Grill.
My electric bike, the fourth most expensive thing I have after my car, computer and virginity, made me happy. I rarely rode it to work because I could walk but on this fateful day I happened to have parked it right outside my office window. And the shade just happened to be drawn. And someone just happened to have walked by, just happened to have bolt cutters to cut (or swallow whole) the padlock, and just happened to ride away.
When I noticed it was gone, I panicked and tried to tell myself maybe I hadn't actually ridden the bike that day and I was just confused. Then I filed a police report. Then I visited stolen bike websites online to read about why bicycle theft happens so often and what ethnic group we can pin most of the crime upon. (Hint: they reside on the Eurasian land mass). Finally I called the "good" local bike stores so they would stay alert in case anyone tried to bring it in.
What hurts the most about losing the bike is how expensive it was. But what hurt the second most is the sense of meaningless victimization. When my house was invaded in college, my roommate AJ was stabbed to death and my car was stolen, it at least made a great story and nothing was really lost of value that could not be replaced. What's the story here? "I didn't have a strong enough bike lock and yet another bike was stolen from me right outside my fucking window." I can't use that on first dates.
What hurts the third most is losing the sense of rhythm I had found since moving here six weeks ago. I was riding my bike to the gym, to restaurants, to Asian massage parlors where prostitution did not occur, to other restaurants, to the downtown bar scene and to Asian massage parlors where prostitution did take place. Now I'm driving my car everywhere or using a Rascal to cart my 500 pound ass to the local Bonefish Grill over twenty-five miles away.
As a 500 pound white liberal, I seethe with guilt at all instances of injustice. When the aforementioned home invader tied me up and stole my car, I tried to throw the cops off his trail. When a homeless panhandler urinated on my car while smiling at me, I smiled back. I've been fortunate with my breaks in life and I don't fault those who seek to even the score but I fucking hate the guy who stole my bike. I seethe with anger towards him and would run over his fucking toes with the bike if I ever got the chance.
Alas, I probably will not. Stolen bikes are rarely recovered - especially if they're completely invisible. Even as the best cities in this great country remove parking spots to build bike lanes and demolish public housing projects to establish weird bike half pipes, bicycle theft remains as prevalent as it did in 1977 New York. I have considered becoming a Charles Bronson type bike vigilante who hunts criminals and returns property to its owner. Maybe I'll end up like George Zimmerman (or Trayvon Martin) but no one will ever forget the image of me, slowly rolling down the street in my Rascal - hot on the scent for what I think is my bike but in reality is just the garbage truck that visits Bonefish Grill.