I rarely blog about myself. I prefer the veneer of fiction when it comes to personal matters, so when my bicycle was stolen Monday, I blogged about the thieves in business and government who prosper at the expense of the poor and near-poor. The usual stuff.
But I’m still angry about losing my bike. I’ll probably never meet the Koch brothers or Gov. Tom Corbett and the other creeps who rob us from afar, so I’m content to simply bitch about them. And yet it seems somehow unfair to me that a street thief should remain as unaccountable and inaccessible to me as his white-collar brethren. It’s as if I’ve unwittingly bought into the societal double standard that the Goldman Sachs crooks rely on to stay out of prison.
As Celine wrote:
Poor people never, or hardly ever, ask for an explanation of all they have to put up with. They hate one another, and content themselves with that.
I’m still on the lookout. The theft took place outside a shop on Eighth Street where I’d stopped for a coffee to go. There was no place to lock up the bike (Iron Horse, black, hybrid, 26-inch wheels), and it was gone so fast, it was like magic. I didn’t even see the thief.
I reported the theft to police then drove around South Philly in my car for a few hours, not sure what I wanted more, to get back my bike or get my hands on the guy who stole it.
I tried to think things through. If I saw someone on the bike and ran him over, then I’d ruin my bike and probably go to jail. But if I stopped the car and shouted “Hey chump, that’s my bike,” he’d keep peddling and disappear before I could catch him on foot. If I saw him and called the cops — well, most of you probably know how much good that does, so I’ll spare you a rant about our lazy men and women in blue.
It seemed best to cut directly in front of the thief, to make him stop riding, then jump out of my car and nail him. But I didn’t see my bike on the road, so my prowling was a waste of time, as were my visits to various bike shops and pawn shops. Street thieves can be pretty stupid, but usually not stupid enough to try to sell a bike to a store anywhere near the crime scene.
I saw bikes locked to poles all over South Philly and slowed my car for a close look many times, much to the annoyance of drivers behind me. I found that, if you really look hard for a stolen bike, you can drive yourself crazy thinking you see it then realizing you don’t.
I’ve checked craigslist to see if my stolen bike is for sale. I’ve searched again in my car — I normally use the car only for certain long-distance trips or to transport heavy stuff — but I suspect the thief probably has painted it a different color by now, put different handlebars on it, and so on, an infuriating thought.
A friend told me to “let it go” and move on, to accept the theft as part of the downside of life in the city. After all, if you ride more than 300 days a year in a town run by people too dull and backward to even install bike racks on a large scale, then your bike will eventually be stolen. In fact, I’ve lost several bikes to theft in the past decade, one of them right out of my house.
But moving on is easier said than done. Off-road bikes are too low to the ground and slow, skinny-wheeled racers get too many flats, and a used hybrid that looks shabby (so as not to catch the eye of most thieves) but rides great is extremely hard to find, and usually costs more than I can afford.
I’ll put the theft in perspective soon. Meanwhike, I’ll also continue to console myself — my apologies to hippies who read this — with the thought of what I’ll do to that thieving prick if I catch up with him.