Reading newspapers is one of my hobbies. I usually go to the local library, grab a stack of papers from different cities and read the news. I like to read about people and especially interested in local crime reports. My favorite pastime has a fringe benefit too. It gives me a good excuse to sit by the large window for a long time and watch a variety of bicycles in the library bike rack and plan my next scheme. There’re a few in the rack I like but the white 20 speed Super Strada bike is the one I’m after. This baby is an $1800 titanium alloy frame that weighs less than fifteen pounds. And its future ex-owner is a rich young kid who rides it to library every day after school for exactly two hours. Hopefully this bike would be the last one I would ever need to steal.
A few weeks ago as I was glancing through the older issues of Toronto Star newspaper the title of an article caught my eye. The more I read it the more I was convinced I was the only target audience. The article was addressed directly to me. Although my name was not mentioned, after I finished reading the text I was compelled to respond and clear the air. It was written by a man whose bike was stolen. The letter was long and tedious to read so I had to choose a few excerpts as reference to make the point in my response. These are the segments I referred to in my article exactly as were written by the original writer therefore this author assumes no responsibility for the poor penmanship, grotesque writing style and incoherence of the thought in the excerpts.
My dear bicycle thief:
A few weeks ago, after I left my work at 7:30 pm, I learned that my bicycle was missing. Desperately, I searched the entire neighborhood for my only means of transportation as I was hoping you have used it in an emergency and abandoned it after use. After an exhaustive search I came to conclusion that you’d stolen my beloved bike…
…I have been riding bicycles practically all my life, 25 years in Iran, 8 years in India and now for the last 12 years in Canada as I could never afford a car. I always properly lock my bikes and no one has ever stolen my bikes anywhere except in Toronto, where, during the last 12 years, I have lost 12 bikes. Now that you have taken away my sole means of transportation, I had no choice but to walk to work in bitter cold weather...
…Finally after two weeks of agonizing commute to work on foot, I found a sturdy bike in a garage sale and purchased it with immense joy hoping it would be the last bicycle I would ever need to buy. This time I took an extra precaution and purchased the most secure lock money can buy which cost me almost as much as the bike itself. The combination lock was too complex to use that now I had to spend five minutes just to unlock my bike every morning I needed to go to work. Yet you managed to steal this one too. How did you exactly steal my bike my dear thief without knowing the combination? How did you crack the code? Is it not better for you, my friend, to quit your job as a petty thief and become a locksmith, a respectable and rewarding career so badly needed in Canada?
…You have so far stolen 12 bikes from me. I have never reported any of my losses to police because I believe you must have had a good reason to commit this crime and in my heart I forgive you as I believe people are fundamentally decent. However after this loss, I have been staring at all cyclists in the streets hoping one day I see you riding my bike and I retrieve my stolen property…
…Do you understand what you have done to me? As a result of your actions, I gradually turned from an optimistic citizen into a cynical pessimist. Please, if possible, find a positive alternative to stealing poor people's belongings...
…Thank you for your consideration and I am enthusiastically looking forward to hearing from you...
This loser must have such nerve to put his pathetic life story in the paper over a stolen bike months ago. I could not sit idle and let this shenanigan goes without proper response so I grabbed a piece of paper and a pen and drafted the following.
To: The owner of recently stolen bicycle in greater Toronto area
FM: The bicycle Thief
Today I stumbled upon your article in Toronto Star. I confess I was the man who took your bike on that ominous evening. I am so sorry to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Let me start by saying that I found your editorial to be disingenuous, offensive and mean spirited to say the least.
In your letter you referred to me as your ‘dear bicycle thief’ and ‘my beloved friend’ etc. At first I was touched by reading such kind words from whom I had stolen. Yet after contemplating the controlling language of your letter I sensed despicable sarcasm and pandering contrary to your false claim being magnanimous. Truth of the matter is that your letter is riddled with offensive words and improper references. You Sir frequently insulted my profession in general and me in particular.
For your information, bicycle theft is a respectable profession, although is more of a profession than respectable. You have no right to ridicule my line of work simply because it is not a rewarding career as it was proven in the theft of your bike. Would you be writing this letter if I was a white-collar criminal who stole millions instead of your crummy bicycle?
In your letter, you went on and on about your half a century bike riding experience in different countries, about your wife, children and friends. You whined about your financial hardships and your four kilometers walk to work in cold weather everyday and so on.
Who gives a hoot about these insignificant details of your personal life and what do they have with the theft of your bike? You may have the audacity to write Sir, but you are not a writer. The cheap melodrama you authored to win the sympathy of uninformed readers is simply pathetic.
You claimed I have stolen 12 bikes from you in the last 12 years. How do you know I was the same guy who stole all your bikes? No crook in his right mind goes out of his way just to rob you 12 times in a row? Where did you get this massive ego from? Besides, can you proof such an outrageous accusation in court of law?
You suggested that I quit my job as petty thief and pursue a lucrative career as a locksmith, which in your opinion is a highly demanded profession in Canada.
My question is how in the world do you know that bicycle thieves earn less than locksmiths? Do you have any statistics to back your claim? Have you ever been involved in petty theft or locksmith business before? And if the answers to these questions are negative, why do you encourage me to change my profession in this time of economical crisis? Is it not true that you are tempted to change your job as a caseworker in the Center for Victims of Torture and turn to a more lucrative business such as bicycle theft? Who works for torture victims anyways? If your clients had money they wouldn’t be tortured in the first place? You don’t think straight man, no wonder you’re dirt poor. Let me give you a free advice, try to get a job as a Valet parking attendant at the “Tits for Tat” strip club in Toronto on intersection of 69th Street and Cumming Ave. Hours are kind of odd but the tip is great.
You claimed that this incident has changed you from an optimistic citizen to a cynical pessimist. I beg to differ. One who raises hell over the loss of his shabby bicycle and shoots his mouth in a major publication cannot be considered a decent citizen by any stretch of imagination.
Now that you dared to write this article I have my own grievances to put out in the open.
Some years ago, I happened to live in Poona India, the same town you lived at the time. Those years I used to eat at Raja’s Samosa, the peddler on Jasmine Street, the only vendor in town whose stand was covered by a Plexiglas to prevent thousands of flies hovering over Samosas. At that time I had a bicycle to move around. One day as I was enjoying my delicatessen on the sidewalk my bike was stolen and I was never recovered.
It’s not difficult to pin you to this crime. You lived in the same town across the globe at the same time I did. You were poor. You badly needed a means of transportation and you obviously have an itch for committing petty crimes and my bike was stolen. What are the odds?
I have reasons to believe it was you who stole my bike parked next to the Samosa stand that day in India.
You wrote that despite the fact you lost 12 bikes in the past years you never reported these crimes to authorities. You didn’t report your losses not because of your benevolence but because you knew if you did, you would have been the laughing stock of officers in police department. Besides, you would have been fined up to $200 for littering the city by riding a junk and tarnishing the beautiful image of Toronto. You refrained to report your losses to avoid legal consequences of riding your bikes in public and not because you had a good heart.
Now that you opened the can of worms, let me tell you about your bike and how I suffered from this entire affair.
On that fateful night of acquiring your bike, I decided to move to America in search of a better future. The next morning I paddled all the way to border and when I reached the border riding your bike, I learned about a $50 tariff to import an outdated bike to the US. Obviously, I was not stupid enough to pay $50 tax on a $5 bicycle so I chose to abandon the junk at the border and walk toward a better future. As I walked cross the border, the officer stopped me and charged me $75 for disposal fee including hauling charges to landfill. So I had no choice but to pay $50 and legally import scrap metal to the USA.
Two days later as I was riding the bike looking for a job in New York City, I was stopped by the cops and received a $100 ticket for missing safety equipment on the bike.
Although my loss from crossing path with you in life is far greater than losing my bike in India and paying taxes, dues and fines, I tried to forget your costly interference in my life until I saw your article in the paper and thank God I did.
Finally in the last paragraph, you "respectfully pleaded" to me to return your bike and receive cash reward of about five times higher than the actual value of the bike!
Do you really expect me to believe someone with your financial background and weak moral fiber would borrow money to generously reward his bicycle thief?
Now, listen to me you born loser. You have 10 days to send a Cashier’s Check for $500 to the Post Office Box address below as restitution for the damages otherwise I look you up, pay you a visit and make you pay through your nose. After I collect the money, I will be more than happy to provide you with the exact address of the junkyard where I discarded you damn bicycle.
Your bicycle thief