I’m back to being a bipedal commuter, for the time being. That’s because some nimrod(s) decided to steal my bike Tuesday. Recently, I had found the right gear pedaling to my journalism classes at Northwestern and listening to podcasts from media magnificos like the British Broadcasting Company, the Wall Street Journal and National Public Radio. While I still have my earphones and iPod nano, I have been stripped of enjoying the pairing of pedaling and podcast. My bike ride north to class provided me with much needed exercise and also a picturesque scene of Lake Michigan en route to Evanston. Now I will be stuck on a Chicago Transit Authority train with angry, tired commuters who don’t really want to make eye contact for fear they might have to make small talk before the workday begins. I don’t blame them really. My bike ride offered an escape from the awkwardness that is a CTA train at 8 a.m. in the morning, a mass transit of men and women wearing mostly suits and business attire. Thanks to bike buccaneers, I will be alongside business people riding to real jobs, in my sophisticated...err...sloppy wardrobe.
On my bike rides, I had time to breath and feel the wind and pedal and catch up with news. Now, I’ll be feeling the breath of the stranger close to me on a train that is probably overcrowded due to the city’s cutback in the train schedule.
But there is hope that my bike will live on. It had a name. Gary Fischer. It had a distinct color: blue. Finally, it had really amazing tires that rolled whenever I pedaled. Gary Fischer was a traveling companion, a friend who accompanied me to Northwestern, waited for me at the bike rack, and then, suddenly, good ole’ Gary vanished.
I hope whoever stole Gary reads this blog and feels bad enough to return my bike to me. Hoodlums have hearts---I pray they look inside and realize that stealing is bad for their soul. Just ask St. Augustine. The dude felt terrible after stealing a peach when he was a child. I feel bad even when I steal something as simple as cereal from my roommates. When I got home the night of the bike theft, I felt obliged to notify my roommate Arthur that I was going to steal his Frosted Flakes (Side note: they were Grrrreat). My justification for pouring a bowl: it was a family size box, and we belong to a little family of four in our four-person apartment. The cereal-steal is probably not the most relevant detail to include in this story---what is probably more amusing to you is that my bike was stolen.
There are several ironic correlations between what is going on in my life and the bike theft. An hour before I realized my bike was stolen I had signed up to run the 2010 Chicago Marathon. So perhaps, I reasoned, the bike theft is a sign that I ought to just start training the old fashioned way: by running everywhere.
The second, probably more comical ironic twist: Wednesday my class assignment is to write a 500-word article on crime in an assigned Chicago neighborhood. My group was assigned Andersonville, a neighborhood just south of my neighborhood, Edgewater. Had the assignment been a more general piece on crime in the area, I could have whipped up a little feature on having your bike stolen on a private university in the middle of the day.
(However, this blog is already nearly 600 words, so I would have already failed the assignment and received what my journalism school, Medill, calls the dreaded ‘Medill F’).
Oh well…the moral of the story is clear enough: purchase a solid bike lock (mine was shoddy at best, and sometimes didn’t lock properly).
Also, be flexible and open to change. Every person (just like my personified bike Gary) is a gift-on-loan. We value his or her company but we also realize that there might come a point when he or she is no longer with us. While this final part of my story really does spin (pun intended) in a different direction, it is not an absolute wipe out. If 17th century Dutch Jewish philosopher Baruch Spinoza is right, then we are all One, and maybe even Gary is hanging out on a thief-proof bike rack in Heaven, waiting for me to have a chance to climb the saddle once more. I only hope that his seat has a feather-soft cushion and his tires are a bit more inflated. Then I know I will have reached Heaven.
peace and keep pedaling,
your friend bob.