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I had two bikes stolen in the past 5 months, both overnight, right in front of my apartment. This is NYC, that stuff happens, I get it.
But here is where my story is different: that first bike that got stolen? It’s locked and parked outside my apartment right now.
On January 17, 2013, I locked my bike outside my East Village apartment. The next day I went out to go for a ride and ended up walking up and down my street several times before accepting the fact that my bike was gone without a goodbye or a trace. I immediately started tweeting about it, made a Facebook post (even sponsored it hoping to get more reach) but I also went the old school route and put a sign (pictured above) right at the spot where it was taken. Maybe it was the fact that my handwriting is easily mistaken for a 5th grader, but somehow it managed to stay up much longer than I thought. The following week I left New York for a month-long trip. When I returned, I accepted the fact I’d never see that bike again and picked up some new wheels from Recycle-A-Bicycle. My new bike got stolen, again, within a week of when I purchased it. Unable to be in the city without a bicycle, I went out and got a new ride and reluctantly decided I should try parking it inside.
Two days later, I was about to sit down to dinner with two friends at my apartment when my doorbell rang. My friend Eva answered the door. She called me over saying a person wants to tell me something about a bike. When I walked out to the hallway he asked to walk outside, because he ‘has a bike.’ When I stepped outside, to my right was my original bike, in excellent condition, resting against the a gate. I was speechless. It was like someone had come back from the dead. The fenders, back rack, even the bell - exactly as it was on January 17. After a minute of just staring at it, I turned to him and he began with broken English: “I am sure you will not believe me, but I have been trying to bring you this bike for months. I come from Brooklyn on the train to ring your bell and you are not home. I kept it inside next to my bike.” I sensed he wasn’t eager to share the details of how he got it, other than he found it down the street, and I was totally okay with that. I could tell he was a person genuinely concerned with doing what he felt was right. The line that struck be most was, “I know someone must have put lots of work into this bike (which was spot on - I’d originally found this bike discarded in pieces and had been bringing it back to life over the past year) and that they must want it back. I know how it feels when you put time into something and how it feels to lose it. So I wanted to make sure you got this back.”
This man deserved a medal of honor in my book, but barely accepted his reward. He left me inspired and pretty damn grateful.