JUST BEFORE THE PHONE CONVERSATION ENDED, I was assured by Tammy at the NSW Police Assistance Line that details of the incident would be wired to the local police station at Balmain. The tide of questions only came to me afterwards. Would the police follow up with a phone call? What would they do with the information? Would I just be another reportable statistic? In any case, I was relieved to have told the authorities. I had done my bit for the community and also had a report number for my insurance claim to be lodged on Monday morning.
Have you ever experienced the feeling of dread that creeps up on you when you gradually realise a sinister plot against your personal property has taken place while you’ve been away or asleep? At 10.45 this morning as I was making my way down the stairs of the low rise building I live in, I noticed my bicycle, Cyril, who is locked to a baluster on the ground floor, had shifted. Suspicious, I took a closer look. His panier had been tampered with, but not opened. This was my cue to scan the rest of his frame. I was disheartened by what I found. There was an empty space where his front wheel had been. Being a quick release wheel, this was the only part of Cyril that was not safely secured. I had paid the price for becoming complacent.
When I park my bicycle on Darling Street each morning I lock the front tire religiously with a cable device. But after initially doing the same at home, I felt that because Cyril is tucked away in the corner of the building in our safe little community of White Bay this was over-kill. Alas, I have been proven wrong!
As I stood there, stunned into silence, I experienced a conflicting set of feelings: Admiration for the thief’s awareness of Cyril’s chief vulnerability. Disappointment at the thief’s lack of society and the blight they’ve brought to our street. And frustration about the time and effort it would take to put things in order before getting back in the saddle. Indeed, it will be weeks before I ride again, which is a big deal, because I depend on my bike for commuting, socialising, shopping and keeping somewhat fit.
While I carefully and methodically catalogued the individual parts and their dollar value that went into constructing the wheel, Tammy, drawing on what seemed like an endless reservoir of patience, asked me if I suspected who might have stolen it. I told her I had no idea. It was probably not someone known to me. And even it was an inside job it didn’t seem personal, because there was no evidence of malicious damage to the bike. But the thief did leave some clues about their handicraft.
There was a certain amateurishness and violence with which they executed their fiendish plan earlier that morning. A whirlwind had hit my bicycle, smashing it against the railing of the stairs. Felled to the ground as if a limb had been torn from his body, I found Cyril in a bad way, balancing precipitously on his forks. The cable housing had been ripped out of the left break lever, an entirely unnecessary and heavy-handed action for making off with the wheel. I put this down to the thief being in a great hurry. If they had had more time I believe they would have opened the pannier and ransacked its not invaluable contents: A brand-new 3M visibility vest, two matching octopus straps and a hessian shopping bag.
In Spring time the green foliage of trees is prettiest when it glistens with the droplets of a rainy day. Especially on a Sunday. Looking out of the large westerly facing window that frames the wall in my living room, I trace the outline of Lillyfield against the dull grey sky. I wish I was floating somewhere up there in the clouds far away from worldly matters such as stolen wheels and other humdrum events that keep my feet close the ground and remind me all too often that life is as pathetic as it is beautiful.