So a few days ago I “accidentally” stole someone’s bike here in Austin…
The first & last time I blatantly stole something was in 2002 when I was buying a bag of Whopper’s candy at the University of Texas convenience store before a class, and the line was gargantuan.
Running extremely short on time, I sneakily walked out with the 85 cent bag. I felt terrible. After the class finished, I went back to the convenience store, checked out and paid for another bag of Whoppers, then put the bag of candy back in it’s original place in the store.
Net harm to the store = ZERO.
Weight it had on my conscience = IMMENSE.
An $0.85 bag of Whoppers nearly crushed me, so I was horrified I had actually stolen a bike.
…and it was a NICE bike which someone obviously put a lot of work into. It was a “woody” looking bike with a custom paint job, hand-made wood-lined rims, reinforced and upgraded parts, and a gigantic lock chain that just screamed, “THIS BIKE IS REALLY IMPORTANT TO ME…PLEASE DON’T STEAL IT.”
It was Friday evening and me and friends were at a fun tech meetup, seeing old friends and making new ones, then we all left to have a pre-party at my place (which is conveniently located Downtown).
We were all drinking and went out to a big club known for cool people and fun dancing.
Sometime around 2am (when all the bars/clubs here close), I was under the impression the club was giving away a bike. There happened to be a nice bicycle in one of the rooms of the club that looked like it was being “presented”…and someone told me it was a promotional bike they were giving away (I have no idea why I thought or believed this…I’m presuming alcohol played “a small” factor).
On a lark, I decided it’d be funny if I got the “promotional bike” outside the club and started riding around on it….well, I accomplished that goal!
Then I saw my friends walking home and got distracted, so I went with them (still riding the bike). We walked three blocks back to my place where my roommate asked, “Ummm…where’d you get this bike??”
I explained it was a promotional bike giveaway, and I “accidentally” rode it home (I never meant to ride it more than a block away). I somehow didn’t feel that guilty since it was going to be given away anyway.
I put the bike in my closet for the time being (we were about to have a small after party), and finally saw it under proper lighting:
My roommate exclaimed, “This is SOMEONE’S bike….it looks used and even has a lock on it.”
I couldn’t really argue these obvious statements, and quickly realized I was some douchebag who just stole a bike!
…a petty little thief I was.
I woke up extra-early the next morning and searched for the owner through Twitter (maybe someone Tweeted “my bike got stolen from Barbarella” or something along those lines) and through the bike model number etc. I then posted this in the Lost & Found section of Craigslist to find the owner:
No responses, so around 3pm I rode my own bike past the club where my stupidity occurred (for fear of being spotted on the stolen bike), and found some guys inside working on the club.
I asked, “Did someone here get a bike stolen last night?”
Them: “YES! One of our guys got his bike jacked…like a wooden-looking bike.” <– (said sort of angrily)
Me: “Well….I HAVE IT!”
Them: (suspiciously) “What do you mean you have it?”
Me: “Last night I was walking back to my place, and some guy walking by me said, “Here man, have a bike…I jacked it from Barbarella” and then ran off!”
Them: “That’s crazy….must’ve been some crack head or something.”
Me: “It might have been” <– masking the guilt in my voice.
Me: “Well, give me 5 minutes and I’ll ride it over!”
Them: “Oh man, thank you soooo much! That’s a really good thing you did, he’ll be so happy to see it.”
I left sort of laughing how I stole the bike in the first place, yet am the hero for giving it back!
Here’s me right before I rode it back:
I rolled up with the bike, and was welcomed like a savior. They even gave me a personal day-time tour of the club, showed me how they made their new 1920′s-style room, invited me to an event that night (free of charge for their hero of course) and apparently they had a closet full of…soups…(??)…they were trying to get rid of and offered me all of it.
They even started pouring me some scotch to toast the return of the bike (I declined simply because I didn’t want to be drunk at 3pm)!
So I walked out of the club glad THEY DIDN’T BEAT ME UP for stealing a bike….. and with two cans of soup :-)
I’d really like to think I learned something from this incident, but I was actually REWARDED for stealing then returning something.
So the moral of this story is: Steal a bike and get free drinks and soup!