Bikes, theft, and things...

New used bike locked to old used bike...friends.
When something is stolen from you, the first question is, “Why?”  Or, more egotistically, “Why me?”  Last Friday, while on my way to a tour, I left my apartment decidedly on time and went to unlock my faithful new (used) bike Pascal only to find that he was not where I thought I had left him in front of my building.


Of all the bikes chained along the street, why had mine been selected?  Was there a shortage of Peugeot models in Paris?  Had I not locked him up properly?  Had I, embarrassingly, left the bike somewhere else and forgot?  After a little forensic work and backtracking, I settled on the inevitable answer that Pascal had been lifted, never to be seen again.  And on top of it all, I was late for Friday’s tour.

In the grand plan of life, a stolen bike – or being late for that matter – isn’t a bombshell.  In fact, I routinely hope someone will steal the mangled frame of my old bike that is taking up prime real estate in front of my apartment.  Still, the infringement does leave me a little more cautious while walking the streets of Paris that I generally deem safe.

I don’t blame anyone in particular.  Whoever stole the bike probably needs it or the eventual money that it will bring them.  At least I hope so.  While browsing online listings for cheap used bikes, I wondered how many of them (including the one I eventually purchased) were stolen, ripped away from an owner across town.  There’s clearly a market there that I’m now a part of, like it or not.

Paris can build you up a lot, a facade of bliss mortared with great experiences, but sometimes it takes a reality check to realize that this is still life, complete with cracks down to the foundation.  The small emotional toll of realizing that, indeed, this is a real city with real problems, is a necessary price to pay.  It’s not all baguette and berets.

Most importantly, I’m keeping things in perspective.  For some people, lack of ice water, rainy days, or seemingly excessive paperwork are major blows to their life in Paris.  For others, sleeping under a bridge and not having food to feed their families are the issues du jour, though these problems don't make it to the Twitosphere for obvious reasons.  I’m just thankful that for the moment my reality check came in the form of a stolen bike and not something worse.

Another lesson learned, another day gone by.  I now have two locks on my new bike, Mint Julep, purchased this week from a city employee who advertised online.  I’m not taking any chances.  But who knows when the next reality check will be and what form it will take.