"It is a Cannondale. I had a Cannondale. It is my bike!" I said aloud with excited disbelief.
A year and a half ago the kryptonite lock lay at the base of the parking meter in more pieces than its designers had intended. Not surprisingly, the 120 year old security guard seated behind the glass revolving doors of my office building, saw nothing through his coke bottle glasses. Three months earlier, he did, however, see my attempt to lock my bike in the safe haven of the building's center courtyard and he did his job by stopping me from breaking building policy. The building would not allow bicycles inside.
"Remember last year when my bike was stolen?" I inquired to the old man smoking his pipe and enjoying the fresh air on the cityscaped sidewalk. "There it is!" I barked, fingering in the direction of the parking meter.
"You are kidding." he muttered.
"Useless," I thought as I asked him to call the police if I got into trouble when the messenger came back.
Kneeling down, I began to inspect the all too familiar scratches, scuffs, and nuances of my well worn old friend. I grew very attached to that Cannondale over 13 months and 11,000 miles of European road in 1988.
I sensed the messenger behind me. As I stood up, I stated in my firmest voice, "This is my bike. I want it back now. It was stolen from that exact parking meter a year and a half ago."
The bewildered bicycle messenger stared blankly at me for a moment.
"I bought it three months ago from a scumbag in Quincy who did not know anything about bicycles. He had it advertised in the Want Ads. Are you the one who put the mountain bike components on the racing frame?" At that moment, I knew that the helmeted messenger could not have been the thief. His question was genuine. He enjoyed riding in the same way I did. Surely he had respect for bicycles and their riders. Never mind the likelihood of his being stupid enough to lock the undisguised Cannondale to a parking meter not unfamiliar to the very same two wheeled vehicle.
I responded to the messenger by launching into a tale of my previous life on two wheels, carefully describing how each war wound was achieved on the disgustingly green bicycle. There was no longer any need to be protective of what was rightfully mine. We were both victims.
He looked at my bike and said, "There was no front wheel when I bought it. I was able to talk him down from 350 to 150 dollars." Jay and I exchanged names, addresses, and phone numbers. Only as a last question of this fellow cyclist's integrity did I ask him for his drivers license. He was nothing less than honorable.
"This is my livelihood." He said, "I'm supporting my wife and myself while we are in college. May I use it for the remainder of today?"
"I guess soâ€¦," I responded, "If you get a chance, pull the seat off and take a look in the downtube for a ziplock back with a three by five file card with my name, address, phone number, and a passport photo on it inside of it." He rode off and I was half an hour late for work.
Two hours later my phone rang. "Hi this is Jay, the dude riding your bike around town. I just found your photograph where you said it would be. I want to give your bike back. But, could I use it for a couple weeks until I can get another bike?"
"What the hell, why not." I wanted it back but something inside me said that this bike would end up at home no matter what happened. "Just give me a call when you get a new bike. Would you be interested in going to the cops and Identifying the #%@*head who sold you the bike?"
"You bet! I want to get my money from him."
I lost a part of my soul when that bike was stolen. I had completed a one year 11,000 mile tour on my mint green Cannondale. It became an icon to me. A symbol of adventure, excitement, and challenge. Most importantly that bike reminded me of the many lessons, stories, and luck my travels afforded me. I have my "Canny" in my possession now.
There must be a moral of some sort in this story. But, I have no idea what it is. I just feel lucky.