21 March 2018

A Cycle Of Karma?

One of the most depressing things that can happen to us is the theft of our bikes.

Just as dispiriting as the loss of something we love and depend on is the realization that we probably won't see it again and, it seems, nobody who isn't a cyclist cares.  We report our losses to the police and other authorities and they tell us that we're not likely to get our wheels back--which is another way of saying they have other fish to fry.

Perhaps the best most cyclists can hope for is what Amanda Needham experienced.

The Brooklyn resident's bike, which she rode to work, was stolen from the front of her house on 3 March. After finding empty space where her machine had been, she took some cardboard and yellow paint to make a sign she would post in that spot.

It begins, "To the person who stole my bike:  I hope you need it more than me."  She follows with a lament about how she depended on it and what it cost her.  "Next time, steal. Or not steal," is how her plea ends.

That sign stood for five days before she heard a knock at her door. She thought it was a delivery. Indeed, it was, but not one she was expecting:  a stranger bearing a used kid's bike with a flat tire.  

A few days later, she got another knock on her door.  This time, an older woman greeted her with a hug and told her if she found another bicycle, she'd bring it to her.  

Not surprisingly, Ms. Needham was touched. "These people were visibly poor and giving from what they had," she said.  But they didn't prepare her for what--or, more specifically, who--came by later.  Steven Powers, an antiques dealer, was riding by and saw her sign.  He posted a photo of it on Instagram and, just as he was thinking of offering to buy her sign--for $200, what she paid for the used bike-- another dealer in the UK offered to split the cost.  "That was the little push I needed," he said.

The sign, he said, is "graphically interesting."  But most important, he believed, is that her message "wasn't angry."

Needham used that $200 to buy another bike.  Before she did that, though, she took the kids' bike to Court Cycles, a local repair shop owned by mechanic Ms. JoAnne Nicolosi.  She offered to repair the bike for free, and Amanda offered to set up her shop on social media.  They now plan to raffle the machine, dubbed #karmacycle, for free later this month.

While she isn't glad she lost her bike, Ms. Needham is happy to have met the people she's met.  Most important, though, is not that she lost her wheels or "got a secondhand bike for someone else."  Rather, she says, she just wants people to "remember that those tiny acts can really go a long way."

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