Thursday, January 31, 2008

"Nice try, larvae." Granny Clampett Wanna-be Foils Teen Bike Robbery

Since the rains began, I’ve been taking my bike on the train with me. Before, I was leaving it at the Hollywood Transit Station, but there’s no covered bike parking there and no way am I leaving it out in the rain for nine hours at a time. So I take it to work where I can put it indoors. I much prefer not taking it on the train, because instead of becoming engrossed in my book, I’m worried about someone snatching my bike. I usually don’t hang it on the hook, but even if I did, it would still be easy to steal from the bike area right inside the doors. I don’t feel like standing next to it the whole way, so I sit as close to it as possible. It always wobbles, but never comes close to falling over.

This one recent Friday night I’m sitting on the raised tier of seats, about three steps up from where the bike is parked. My helmet’s off, I ‘m wearing normal clothes, and I’m not readily identifiable as the owner of the bike. It’s about six in the evening and the train’s kind of crowded. For no particular reason, I’ve been watching these two kids with skateboards, about fifteen years old. One’s got wild black curls trying to escape from the circumference of a black baseball cap. He’s light skinned with possibly African American features. The other’s a thin pimply Caucasian with a short brown haircut on a head the shape of a jar of pickles. They both look like trouble waiting to happen.

They keep nudging each other and laughing. I start wondering if they’ve got their eye on my bike. The curly one hands his skateboard to the pickle-headed one. Curly shifts his pack from one shoulder to his back, and now both his hands are free. He positions himself to the left of the bike, standing exactly where you would if you were about to get on it. All he needs to do is reach out his arms and they’d be on the handlebars. Next time the doors open he could be out like a jackrabbit on fire.

I get up and climb down the steps. After a few excuse me’s to get by other people, I sidestep in front of him and plant my feet there, usurping his spot.“What are you doin?” he shouts with mock indignity meant to cover up guilt.
“I’m standing in front of my bike,” I answer. “What are you doing?”
“I’m tryna get out the door!”
“Well you’ll have to go around my bike. Unless you want to hop over.”
Just then, the doors open, and he bursts out with his friend, shouting, “You’re ghetto!” and disappears into the night.

I’m not sure what the term means as it’s used here, or whether it’s a compliment or an insult. But anyway I still have my bike.

As an anti-climactic after-note, a couple of days ago I was sitting in the exact same spot in relation to my bike, the bike area empty of people. As the train paused in station, a row of three kids walked by the open doors. I distinctly heard the words “…steal a bike?” coming from the middle one, a pudgy teen, as they walked by jostling each other and laughing. His gaze caught my eyes drilling through the window at him. “Just you try it, you little twerp!” I glared.

They were probably just kidding around. I wasn’t, though. Anyone who’s ever had a bike stolen (i.e. me, 1985; Lindi, 2004) has a reserve of adrenalin stored up just for that, and anyone who messes with us is in serious danger of losing limbs.


At 10:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well done! I've had one bike stolen, and it was more than enough. I haven't managed to think of a punishment dire or appropriate enough for bike thieves, but I haven't stopped trying. Val

At 10:14 AM, Blogger kate gawf said...

Don't worry, Val. In case we don't nab them in this life, there's a special place in hell for people who steal bikes, and another for those who steal from libraries. Dante didn't cover them, but they're there.


Post a Comment

<< Home