Locking It Down
MOVIES MAKE EVERYTHING LOOK WORSE THAN IN REAL LIFE.
I used to stay up late watching the film of my bicycle being stolen. It’s amazing what you notice on the 38th replay of a surveillance tape, running the grainy recording backward and forward, pausing and advancing. Sometimes I’d back the tape up to before the 17 minutes that changed my life. All the way back to the part where I still had a bicycle.
Rewinding—past all the New Yorkers striding backward toward lunch; past the Algonquin and Royalton hotels inhaling crowds and the door of the Harvard Club admitting well-fed members; past the New York Yacht Club looming impassively like a beached galleon; past all the finery and civility of West 44th Street—you come to the beginning. You come to him.
The thief. There he is. Caught, if only on tape.
He walked into the frame on a beautiful sunny January afternoon, or what the camera mounted on the front of the Penn Club referred to as 13:29:36. He was dressed like pea bike messenger, but he didn’t have a bike. (Yet.) He looked at mine and took out his phone.
After the call, he sat on a standpipe and waited. I was inside the Penn Club, eating a hamburger and talking to my sister. The key to my lock—a foolishly thin flexible Kryptonite cable—was in my pocket.
I suppose I didn’t really believe in the little cable. Maybe I never believed in the bike, either—a blue Novara Metro hybrid. Heavy and ugly, it was the second-cheapest model in my local shop. Maybe it was the sunshine in winter or the teeming crowds or the expensive real estate. Maybe it was the hope—naive, but apparently endemic—that it would never happen to me. Not that quickly. Not in broad daylight.