August 10, 2010

Letting go... of my beloved possessions

At 5:29 this morning I awoke to the sound of two successive bangs. I regularly sleep through street noise, car alarms and the whirl of Medevac helicopters landing on a nearby hospital roof. But apparently my unconscious perceived this sound to be closer and "not right." I was alerted awake.

I ran downstairs. Sure enough, the backyard motion-detectable floodlight was on, and the door to my garage open. I switched on a second flood light and saw a man peering up toward me. My door's deadbolt was locked from the inside so I turned and raced to get the key to unlock it. By the time I returned, he was pushing my bicycle down the gangway at the side of my garage to the alley. Feeling safe enough at my distance in the house, I opened the door and bellowed as loud as I could from the depth of my diaphragm: "Leave my bike!"

Startled, he jumped on it, and the heavy, 50-ish man pedaled off...on my hot-pink women's bike.

The 911 operator said the police would look for him straightaway and took my detailed description. Officer Morris arrived 13 minutes later and spent five minutes slowly writing my description: Male, 6'1", medium-to-heavy build, dark-complected, receding hairline with short black hair, dark gray short-sleeved tee and dark pants.

The officer then drove away, returning 15 minutes later, saying the offender was not to be found. "You mean to say you went to look for him now?" I asked politely (but feeling incredulous). "Oh, he had to be two miles out before you went looking--he'd sprinted down the alley when I hollered at him, a good ten minutes before you arrived." I was a bit frustrated that the officers didn't look before coming to my house--as the 911 operator said.

Sad about losing my bicycle: on which I logged thousands upon thousands of miles (documented in my Excel file aptly titled "Bicycling") traveling to and from work--my bond-brokering job in the Loop in the 90s, and just high-tailing it up and down Chicago's lakefront for years and years, from Hollywood Street to the South Shore Cultural-Center and back home.

I'm out an expensive lock and other primped-out accessories; will have to repair the lock on the gate to the back of my property as well as the busted garage door lock, frame and garage wall siding.

The trouble with possessions is that sometimes you have to let go of them.

I, of course, have been musing on this guy for two hours now. I wonder if my words reverberated in my burglar's mind's ear: Leave my bike! I wondered what his mama would think of him now. I wondered if the economy weren't so wrecked, if he'd not have turned to thievery. I wondered if, as a Black man in not-so-post-racial America, he never much had a chance at securing and developing a career to earn livable wages. I wish I had a chance to see him (somehow safely) eye-to-eye today, and ask, "Do you really mean to damage my gate, door, locks and rob me of my beloved bicycle. Is that what you really want to do?"


  1. Sharon, I'm sorry this happened to you. It's so violating...such an emotional attachment to the bike. I know what that's like. Know that our thoughts/prayers are with you.

  2. Hmmm... Now I've decided to remember specifically all the dates the bicycle took me on, and that brings up fond memories. Especially since my favorite dates are (or used to be) working-out dates.

    There was "the Bear." We got caught on our bikes in the most amazing torrential downpour, seeking refuge and screaming with laughter under the overhang of the checkers pavilion at North Ave.; cycling with Jerry who dressed not in bike shorts, but all like-I'm-going-to-a-Hamptons-garden-party; the guy who was a into his looks and his Tom Sellecky-mustache--don't remember his name, and then fitness-trainer Bill, who, at nine years younger than I, was amazed I kept up with him *and better* all the way from Diversey Harbor to South Shore and back!! And there are more, but anyway.

    Goodbye pretty bicycle. Hello to a new one.

    While awaiting the police officer to return from his search for the perp, at 6:00 a.m. today, I sat in my pjs on my front porch steps already searching Craigslist with my iPhone 4, seeking a nice used bicycle.

  3. Dear Sharon,
    So sorry your cherished pink bike was stolen.
    To encourage its nephew's car was stolen in the time he was a grad-student on a tight public transportation in L.A....his mother's prayer group (maybe you should have called your prayer group first:)) right on it...and two days later...his car was parked in front of his apt. with a note under the windshield wiper. "I'm sorry I tok (real spelling) your car."
    Do you remember me? CBA a gazillion years ago:)
    Blessings to you,
    Dolley Carlson

  4. Darling Dolley, of course of course of course I remember and know you (recall I was your volunteer book table assistant at one of your Chicago area speaking gigs? We had such fun on that long-ago trip. And all the church ladies left with little bottles of fairy-dust sprinkle to spice up their looks!)

    Actually, no bicycle should be "beloved." Beloved is for people, not things. But I shall say, I do cherish the many fond memories I had with that bicycle.

    Similarly, my brother completely accidentally stole a car and later returned it even before discovering he had stolen it. He, too, was a poor student when he borrowed a friend's car for the weekend. The key didn't fit well in the ignition, but it did start that car. Later, the friend said, "Hey, I noticed you never borrowed my car for the weekend after all," and my brother said, "Hey, I thought you said your car was green, not blue..." True story.