Losing Items, 24-7
My irksomely police-looking rain gear didn’t help me out on Saturday, with a cop who did not for one minute mistake me for another cop. Late morning, I rode my bike through the still pouring rain to the central library downtown. When I emerged at around 2, it was still raining, so I sat down on a bench in the foyer to put all my rain clothes back on. Out the door and down the steps I went to my bike parked in front. I settled my bag into the basket, strapped it in with bungie cords, unlocked the bike, put the lock in its place, put on my helmet, set all my lights blinking, and off I go.
Wait. No gloves. Where are my gloves? Darnit, I must’ve left them on that bench. Now I’ll have to UNDO everything I just did just so I can go look for them.
Obviously you can’t leave your bike unlocked for a millisecond, nor can you leave anything on your bike. So even though it would literally take two seconds to dart in and grab the gloves off the bench, I don’t dare. I’m going to have to lock everything back up and unstrap my cargo and my easy-steal headlight and take it all with me as I dart.
Instead, the idea strikes me to simply roll my bike up the wheelchair access ramp, leave it unlocked on the landing at the top of the stairs, and dart in from there. In order to steal my bike, a thief would now have to pick the whole thing up, cargo and all, and carry it down the stairs. This plan would allow me time to get back out of the library with said gloves, as well as provide me an excellent launching pad from which to pounce upon the villain stealing said bike. (And I knew they wouldn’t try the wheel chair access ramp because it’s too zig-zaggy for a quick exit.)
So I get to the middle of the ramp and I pause to squeeze over to the railing and let someone by, and big Officer Clompy-Boots strides toward me on the sidewalk below, bellowing: “Ma’m! You can’t park there Ma’m! That’s the wheelchair access!”
Duh. Number one, I’m not parking, I’m waiting for this person to go by. Number 2, I know it’s the wheelchair access. Do I look like I bought my brain at Wal-Mart, yesterday? But when I begin to explain my plan, he interrupts me. “Nope! You can’t you can’t park there, Ma’m!”
I wasn’t going to park here, you schmoe! I’m trying to get my bike over there so I can run in for two seconds and get my gloves! But do you think I could I get one word in? More bellowing. “Ma’m! You need to get the bike down from there!”
It was like he went to dog training school. Page 12, paragraph 3: Give the commands using a firm, authoritarian voice.
Clearly there was no reasoning with this man. So I said, “Ok, well then can you watch my bike for a sec so I can run in and grab my gloves?”
“Sure!” he agrees obligingly. Alright! Now I’m speaking his language -- give him something to guard. “I’ll watch it as long as I’m out here finishing this,” he says, raising a cigarette, his fingers in joint-holding position.
Probably made his day. At least for a few minutes he got to do something besides escort old homeless men out of the library for smelling like pee.
So anyway I dash up the stairs to the landing, where lots of people are going in and out of the row of double doors. I dart in to find two men occupying the bench I’d been using. My eyes rake the bench and the area around it. The two men think I’m nuts, of which there are many in the area. I address them in a rather urgent tone. “Have you seen a pair of bike gloves?” which translated meant, “Are you sitting on my gloves?” They simply say no, without getting up and checking under their ample behinds, either of which could easily conceal a pair of bike gloves. I can’t think of a graceful way to ask them to get up and check, so I give up and head back out of the building.
Now I’m going to have to lock everything back up, unpack my load, and carry it around the library as I traipse around retracing my steps through the periodicals section, in and out or the bathroom, up and down both sides of the grand staircase -- which I always use instead of the elevator even though it’s a ton of stairs because it’s so beautiful -- and all around the arts and letters section on the third floor. Resigned to this complicated fate, I return to my bike.
“Hey!” shouts the guard. “Get away from that bike!” Ha ha. I thank him for his astute attention. I proceed through all the tedious steps described, then head back up the stairs, Once inside again, as I’m walking across the expansive entrance area, I take off my helmet. There lie the gloves, squished up into the top of it.