I threw down my wrench in frustration, and went to find a better one. I was living in New York, working with a young man named Martin, and our only means of transportation were bicycles. The problem was that I spent all of my free time fixing mine. I was only gone for about 15 minutes, but when I came back, my bike had been stolen. I couldn’t believe it had disappeared so quickly.
I filed a police report, and did everything I could, but I knew the chance of recovering my bike was very small. I was disheartened about losing it. The money to buy it had been a gift from my grandfather. He had sent it after I wrecked my previous bike when I crashed through a barbed wire fence.
This time I had no gift money, and I didn’t want to ask for any. So, while I searched for a cheap, used bike, Martin and I were reduced to walking. One day, while we were out working, we saw a man go by with three bikes. He was riding one, pulling one, and he had another one draped around his shoulders.
Martin nudged me. “Maybe we ought to follow him and see if he has seen yours.”
An hour or so later a young boy approached us, glancing nervously around as he spoke.
“Hey, Mistas. I sees yous twos a walkin’. I’se a thinkin’ dat maybe you could use a baawk. Well, my brudder needs some monay real bad. Ees got a baawk dat is good as new dat he’d sell real cheap. I’se a wonderin’ if you’s mawt be intrested.”
Martin smiled. “Yeah, we are kind of sick of walking.”
“What kind of bike is it?” I asked.
The little boy glanced around more nervously. “What kin’a baawk you want?”
Martin’s smile turned to a grin. We, of course, knew why those bikes were so cheap. I patted the boy on the head. “I’m afraid we probably wouldn’t be interested.”
As the boy went away, Martin turned to me. “You know, you should have taken him up on it. Maybe we would have ended up finding your bike.”
“Or, more likely,” I answered, “I would have end up with somebody else’s stolen bike.”
A few days later we were visiting with some of the other young men we worked with, and Martin told of our experience.
“You really should have gone with the boy,” Taylor said.
“Nah,” I answered. “I’m afraid there’s a chance I could have seen my own bike, and I might have gotten angry. That wouldn’t have been a good situation. It would be better for me to just find another cheap, legitimate bike somewhere.”
“I had my bike stolen not too long ago, too,” Taylor said, “and I think if you get a chance to buy your own bike back, you should. And you shouldn’t feel bad about paying for it as long as you can dicker them down to a decent price.’
I was shocked. “Are you kidding? Buy my own bike back? That just senseless.”
“I had thought so, too,” Taylor replied. “But I originally bought my bike for over $200, and I swear it was always breaking down. I wasted almost all of my free time trying to keep it running, when I would have rather spent that time writing letters home.”
“What has that got to do with buying it back?” I asked.
“Well, after it got stolen, I found it at this place that was selling bikes. They had oiled it up, and totally repaired it. I ended up buying it back for only $10, and it has worked great ever since.”
His grin widened as he continued. “I couldn’t have gotten it fixed that well at a repair shop for ten times that amount. If they were smart they would realized they could make more money as a bike repair shop than they do selling stolen bikes.”
I smiled at that, and decided that if I ever did find my bike again, I might just pay the repair bill and buy it back.