Well, it was bound to happen at some point. Since my arrival in Amsterdam, the most consistent warnings have related to bike security. So even with the rusty bike, I relatively consistently followed the locking best practices – locking the back wheel with a key and using a chain to lock the bike’s frame and front wheel to something, like a bike rack, a light pole, even another bike (if I knew the other owner, obviously). I lived in constant fear of losing a bike that was only slightly more than 2x the cost of the lock that secured it.
I upgraded over the summer, thinking it would improve my quality of life. Nothing fancy. But it had one of those new kickstands, a shiny silver color, and all of the words on its side were in tact. It was like a bike version of my Jetta (from the recent U.S. years) – whereas Rusty was more like the ’85 Maxima we had when I was growing up, except about 25 years after its heyday.
I think the shine is where I went wrong. Even though it wasn’t glamorous, it was obviously new. And a new bike catches attention. And comments. Even from people I didn’t really know. Like, “oh, is this a new bike?” But I would hear it on the defensive, as if they were saying, “ooohhh, someone’s fancy ass is trying to get robbed, huh?”
By the time I left for Suriname in September, I still hadn’t gotten rid of Rusty. I thought a back-up bike couldn’t hurt. Or maybe I would even sell it. In the meantime, while I was away, Rusty was parked outside, across the street from my apartment, for more than 2 months. Back wheel locked. Front wheel and frame chained to a rack. Shiny was parked in my friend’s garage, then back to my hallway when I returned home (Rusty stayed outside for a bit longer with barely a visit).
Then, after a miserable couple of weeks filled with snow, rain, and healthy doses of cat mourning (and on the same day I picked up Zora’s ashes), I decided to spend time with fun people doing fun things. So not too far from my place I met some friends for dinner, and later a party. I parked Shiny across the street from the restaurant. Back wheel locked. Front wheel and frame…well, uh, tucked next to the rack. I was rushing and my chain lock had been sticking (maybe because it was sitting outside with Rusty for all of that time). So yes, I admit it. I didn’t lock the front wheel or frame.
Continuing on my rampage of carefree carelessness, I left Shiny behind to receive a ride to the party. Turning down the ride didn’t cross my mind – especially since my friend offered to return me to the bike at the end of the night. And she did.
I held the Shiny’s key in my hand, waved goodbye, and watched my friend drive away. I thought I was standing at the right rack, where Shiny was tucked into the middle. But it must not have been. So I walked down the street. Checking each one. Maaaaaybe….no. Coooouuuld it be…no. Is thaaaat…no.
Then, returning to the original rack – the actual rack, I happened to look down at the other side of the sidewalk. There was my chain lock. Ripped from Shiny and tossed aside. Shiny was gone. Maybe I asked for it. But Shiny didn’t deserve it.
Robbed and feeling violated, I walked home to a faithful Rusty with a chain in my hand, my frown to the ground, and a brewing enthusiasm to leave Amsterdam for a bit.
This black girl is about to be gone again…