Friday, October 19, 2007

Unstolen Bike

When I saw the young woman park her bike against the outside wall of the Chase bank (formerly the Second Avenue Deli) then go inside to withdraw cash without locking the bike I thought it was strange that she felt so secure. But since she could easily turn around and see her bike from the ATM, maybe she figured she could keep an eye on it.

After she took out her cash, however, she breezed right past the bike and headed across the avenue to the farmer's market in the courtyard of St. Mark's Church (called Abe Lebewohl Park after the Second Avenue Deli owner who was murdered nearby in 1996). She shopped among the apples and squashes for 10 or 15 minutes and never looked back to check on her bike.

She owns locks--you can see them (more than one) in these photos--so she cares about keeping her bike, but she obviously doesn't believe she needs to use the locks in the East Village.

I felt an inexplicable rage at her blithe sense of security and must admit, I was tempted to hop on that bike and pedal away, just to teach the girl a lesson. The East Village is not Mayberry, where you lean your bike against the drugstore without locking it and go inside for a Slush Puppy and a lazy browse among the comic books. But what if I am wrong about that?

I didn't steal that bike and neither did anyone else. The girl came back, her basket laden with greenmarket produce and flowers, climbed on her unlocked bike and rode away.

Welcome to Mayberry.


Barbara L. Hanson said...

Another don't miss:
All about the destruction of the Lower East Side (where I've lived since I move from Brooklyn in 1981). It still all sounds so ludicrous to me, but I know that it's heartbreakingly true.

Anonymous said...

And this is

Sally Tomato said...

I feel as if that is the fourth horseman of the NYC apocalypse. Which is why I'm leaving. You should've stolen the bike.

Anonymous said...

While I know I'm being nostalgic for crap, junkies and the even crackheads, the sense of entitlement that someone who leaves a multi-hundred-dollar piece of equipment feels alone on the street of a major city, is just awe-inspiring. Seven years from now, when she lives in Kiwanee with her first-born, she'll tell all of the Wisconsin hipster chicks that she was a New Yorker once, and it won't be true: she'll think its true though.

Barbara L. Hanson said...

Anonymous, you've clearly never lived in a neighborhood that you cherish; I'm deeply sorry for you.

Anonymous said...

She is probably one of the same people that would come into bars and clubs I worked at in NYC and leave her purse in a booth while dancing. Only to come to me later and ask in ALL HONESTY where her purse was.
I would then have to give the "you live in NYC, you should never leave ANYTHING unattended if you want to see it again" lecture.

Anonymous said...

I share the dismay over neighborhoods losing their unique character, landmarks disappearing, and decades-old small businesses being squeezed out by national behemoths. But the nostalgia for theft has always struck me as misplaced. But what do I know? I've only lived in New York for 5 years.

So I asked my girlfriend (native New Yorker raised in Chelsea starting back when it was mostly abandoned warehouses) for her response to this post. Her exact words:

"That's stupid. He needs to shut up."

Anonymous said...

"...the sense of entitlement that someone who leaves a multi-hundred-dollar piece of equipment feels alone on the street of a major city, is just awe-inspiring."

This is just absurb. Why this nostalgia for crime? Having spent time in Tokyo and Shanghai (Shanghai!) where you rarely see bikes locked on the street, I wish for the day when the same would be possible here in New York. I have had two bikes stolen even though they have both had heavy duty locks on them. Maybe you feel that this is a sign of the vanishing of New York. Personally I welcome a safer, more civilized city. If Tokyo and Shanghai are Mayberry, then I welcome that.

Unknown said...

Insane is all I can think of. Having had a locked bike stole from Chelsea Piers during the transit strike a few years ago, I learned my lesson the hard way. Treat your bike like your dog, never leave either unattended outdoors.

Chris said...

Last night I was at a Halloween party on Ludlow dressed like this
complete with a 6 foot long stuffed panther purchased on eBay. At around 5 AM I went into a falafel joint, placed the panther on the floor, and ordered. Somehow during that 30 second exchange, I had been surreptitiously robbed of my beloved accoutrement. I've lived here long enough to know better, but I'm kind of impressed that my first NYC robbery experience(if you don't count landlord) transpired so absurdly.

Jeremiah Moss said...

great story. let that be a lesson: no matter how briefly you look away -- or how scary you look -- your stuff can always be snatched in a flash.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone consider that she might also have been very absentminded that morning...inexcusable yes, but not necessarily a sign that she is a transient transplanted Wisconsin hipster doing her obligatory stint in NYC. I'm a native NYer (3 generations born in Brooklyn!) and I've done crazy stupid absentminded things. I left a car unlocked with the key in the ignition once parked near the junction of Nostrand and Flatbush Avenues Parkway, once. Just a few weeks ago, I "freelocked" my bike accidentally, i.e., looped the chain through the wheels and frame, but forgot to chain the bike frame to a post. This is a preferred method of locking a bike for messengers and delivery boys who don't have time to chain the whole thing in a more secure faqshon, because they are just flitting in and out of a building...problem was I rode my bicycle to work that day and left it chained that way the whole day outside the building. It would have been easy for anyone to just pick up the whole bike and work on picking the lock later at their convenience. My point is, people get forgetful. Don't you hear stories about people leaving the baby in the babyseat on top of the car and driving away?