Friday, October 16, 2009

The Parable of the Bicycle Thief

This is my second This I Believe essay, and I think I've done a slightly better job this time around. Enjoy!

I named my bicycle Alex, after the artist, Alexander Girard. It was a vintage-style beach cruiser, candy-apple red, with Mr. Girard’s “Madonna” painted on both sides of the skirt guard. It had a chrome lamp on the front, powered by the wheels, and a silvery-sounding bell, which friends, acquaintances, and even strangers would ask to ring.
Most days when I go to ride my bike to school, I scan the rack for a minute or so, trying to remember where I parked the day before. Last Thursday, I did this, weaving through the rows and glancing around for that familiar flash of red.
It was several seconds before I realized that my bike simply wasn’t there.
Later that morning, I told my friends that our beloved Alex had been kidnapped. Some told me furiously that they would knock over anyone riding my bike. More than one of my good friends has scoured Craigslist and the rest of the internet, hunting for my bike. That night, my roommates walked with me in the freezing cold to every single bike rack in our apartment complex to look for Alex, and at last, to the one I used to park at.
“I feel like we’re standing around a grave,” said Chelsee.
“Alex was a good bike,” I said, jokingly.
“Whenever I saw him on campus, it made me smile!” said Charne.
I have wondered about the kind of mean-hearted person who stole my bike. My thoughts, originally, were full of prejudices and resentment, but mostly pain that any feeling person could do that to me. I will probably never meet the bicycle thief, but that person hurt me without any reason to. Conversely, since I'm a freshman in college, the friends of which I speak are people whose trust and love I have gained over mere months, weeks, or even days.
Lying on the grass with one of my new friends, I listened to her tell me about how maybe the bicycle thief was a kind of Aladdin character. She said maybe he’d stolen the bike to pay for a dying child’s operation, and once he had a magic lamp, he’d give me my bike back.
Obviously, this is extremely unlikely, but despite the fact that there are bicycle thieves in the world, there are friends who make up ridiculous stories to comfort you. There are roommates who will walk in the freezing cold with you for a nearly lost cause. There are people who will search all over the internet for something formerly irrelevant to them, just because they care about you.
All people have the power to be bicycle thieves, but every human being also has the power to share happiness . My encounter with the bicycle thief taught me that bicycle thieves are, fortunately, a minority, and that there are people who will wrap you in love whenever you even vaguely need it. Thankfully, those are the people I find around myself now.

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