Feb 13, 2014

Meth-Head Mike

Coming out of my Project Rising workshop tonight, it's about 7pm, dark, over by the downtown library. I walk over to the bike rack where my bike is parked and there's a guy standing next to the bike intently working to cut the cable lock.

My mind goes blank except for the parts of my brain screaming at each other, over and over, "HE'S STEALING MY BIKE!!!" "IS HE STEALING MY BIKE?!?!?!?!"

What do you say to guy stealing your bicycle? It turns out, you don't get to think about it, it just comes out: for me, it was the iciest, flattest, coldest delivery of "Would you mind not stealing my bicycle?"

The guy moved away from the bike. He was wearing all black clothes, including a black jacket and a black beanie, all filthy and ragged. A over-smoked cigarette dribbled from his very hard, dirty, ravaged face. He backed away as I moved towards him.

"You..... Fucking......Asshole" I said as I walked towards him as he backed away. I've never wanted to punch someone so bad before.

Even as he tried to back away, he has saying over and over, "I'll cut you and stab you, I'll cut you and stab you." He had nothing in his hands... except for his pliers. Not going to do much in the cutting and stabbing department, but maybe continuing to advance on a bike thief with nothing to lose and a heavy tool in a empty parking lot was not such a hot idea. I stopped and he backed away until he could turn and walk very quickly away. The whole incident was over in 30 seconds.

As he turned the corner, it occurred to me that I could have done a few other things like calling the police. Oh well. I was almost on top of him by the time I realized what he was doing. And If I called the police now....

"911 Emergency. What is your emergency please?"
"Hi! My bicycle was almost stolen."
"Are you in physical danger now sir?"
"Well, I'm experiencing rapid heart rate and distorted cognition."
"Ohhhhhhh kaaaaaaaay. I'm going to transfer you to the Downtown City of Phoenix Police Department."
"Thank you."
"Phoenix Police. How can we help you?"
"Hi! I'd like to report an attempted bicycle theft."
"Is the person attempting to steal it still there?"
"No, they ran off. It's a white guy with black clothes."
"Any distinguishing characteristics? How can we identify this man on the street?"
"Well, he had a lit cigarette."

You see where this is going. Anyway, my anger flamed down into smoldering irritation. Fucking assholes. I've lost three, count 'em, three bikes to thieves in Phoenix. Of course, that was in Tempe which is to bike theft like Paris is to art. Eventually I got wise and bought a $100 bike and a $40 lock.

I've heard anecdotes about the bicycle theft trade in Phoenix. It sounds organized. I've heard that the bikes get sold to bigger thieves who ship them wholesale to Mexico for sale. Someone told me about walking where they shouldn't have been and seeing about a hundred bicycles guarded by some ragged looking people.

Which brings me back to the lock. I took at look to inspect for damage. The tough plastic casing took the brunt of it. It didn''t actually appear that the cutters got to the metal cable. Meth-head Mike must have just gotten to the bike as I walked out the door.

It's time to get Larry a U lock.

And Meth-head Mike, you are probably too desperate and poor to own anything with an internet connection so you won't read this unless you use the public library computers. I don't know why you wanted to steal my bicycle. Maybe you have kids to feed, maybe you can't get a straight job. Maybe the system screwed you from the start. Maybe you just want the money for meth and cheap liquor. I'm sorry you live such a shitty life, and I hope for everyone's sake that things get better and you stop stealing bicycles.

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