Tuesday, July 20, 2010

An Emotional Roller Coaster

For today's J Squared column, I wrote about something a little more personal than usual.

Last Monday, I discovered that my bike was gone. The only explanation I could come up with was theft (especially after I found my helmet, which used to dangle from my bike's handlebars, lying in the lawn of our apartment complex).

It was a huge bummer, about as big as a bummer can get. Not only did I lose one of my few modes of transportation, but I lost a bike that has been with me through a lot. I have had that bike since I was nine, believe it or not, and even after 14 years it still had some life left. I wasn't done with it yet. The thought I kept repeating to myself was "I can't believe it's gone." You would have thought I lost a pet. But that's how I felt after the bike I've had for more than half my life was stolen.

Anyway, so I wrote about the incident for the Issues & Ideas page. I knew it might sound like a sob story and a cry for everyone to pity me, but I tried to relate it to the community and make it interesting. I also hoped it might provide some sort of "closure."

Biking into the sunset (go to page 3)

And then, the shocking twist of events.

Erin called me while I was at my other job. She asked me, "What kind of bike was it?" I thought maybe she found it on KSL or Craigslist, so now I had some information to give the police. But, no, Erin was calling to tell me my bike had been returned! It was lying in the lawn in front of our apartment. It came out of absolutely nowhere. I never would have expected that to happen in a million years.

I don't know if my bike coming back to me on the same day as my column being printed was a coincidence or not. But, either way, my faith in the world has been restored by the power of journalism.

When I first wrote the column, it was on track to be super long but I decided to finish it anyway and edit it down from there. Now, the long version can go on the blog!

So, here's the long version of my column. It tells a little bit more about how I got the bike 14 years ago.

"Police Beat is undoubtedly everyone’s favorite part of The Daily Universe. BYU students like to know what our campus police officers are up to, laugh at failed pranks, read about romantic endeavors gone wrong and take a look into BYU’s peculiar community.
"But among the strange shenanigans and 911 calls from overreactors, there are still legitimate crimes with real culprits and real victims.
"And now I have an idea of how victims feel.
"My case did not actually appear in Police Beat because it happened away from campus. However, over the past week I have felt a loss, regret and helplessness that I am sure many around campus can relate to.
"Last Monday morning, I left my apartment for work and was surprised to see my bike was missing from its usual place in front of my door. I took the car instead, texted my wife about our spur-of-the-moment change in the day’s travel arrangements and tried to remember where I had left my bike. But the more I mentally retraced my bike treads, the more certain I was that there was no excuse for my bike to not be at home. Something had gone wrong.
"I did not usually lock my bike up at home, because I figured no one would have the gall to steal a bike from a person’s front doorstep.
"But sure enough, when I came home later that day I discovered my helmet lying in the lawn of my apartment complex. The helmet had been hanging on the handlebars when I parked the bike at home the week before, but now it looked like it had fallen off my bike during a thief’s quick getaway.
"We may call this area Happy Valley, but BYU and Provo are not immune to theft. Just this spring and summer term, Police Beat has included 13 bicycle thefts on campus so far. And the Provo Police Department reported 259 thefts last year, which works out to almost five bikes stolen a week in our fair city.
"Even Provo’s Mayor John Curtis has been affected. Last month, Curtis’ bike was taken from his son’s friend’s driveway in Orem. Fortunately for him, the Orem Police Department found it before the mayor was even aware it was missing.
"No such luck for me. At this point, unless Provo police happens to come across my bike while attending to its higher priorities, I am unlikely to ever see my bike again.
"I had this bike since I was nine years old, believe it or not. When I was in third grade, my elementary school encouraged us to break away from the tube by celebrating “TV Turnoff Week.” For each day we did not watch TV, we could enter a ticket for the prize drawing at the end of the week. There were plenty of games and goodies to be won, but the top item was a brand new Trek 800 Sport mountain bike.

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