The day in which I
ride, unlock, fix, carry, steal my bike (oh yeah, and just try to enter my own room, too).
So, this past Saturday, I just wanted to run some quick errands (I was out of food and I desperately needed a new lock for my bike)–thereafter I would do some much needed work on my poor, neglected thesis. Excited about the prospect of an early start, I successfully acquired all of my needed goods, and, having successfully stuffed a week’s worth of food into a hipster-sized backpack, I headed back to my beloved bike, so I could bring my newly acquired goods home.
You see, I needed to buy a new lock next because the old lock had a broken key, one that was getting less and less reliable with each turn. I had to use pliers as it was to turn the key, so it already looked like I was stealing my own bike. I sat outside the grocery store on the busiest street in the city just fiddling with a sketchy looking key and lock. Nothing.
Well, I was starting to get looks and comments alike “es sieht nicht so vertraut aus” –doesn’t look so trustworthy (leave it to the Germans to resort to passive-aggressive statements under their breath…) But I had the solution, I’d give Carolina a call–she’s like a shining beacon of hope for me. She always has the answer, or a coupon, or an extra tire, or a friend who knows just what to do. I knew she’d find some simple answer to get me out of this pickle! The one mile trek back to my apartment wasn’t great, but I figured things would be looking up once I talked to Caro
“You’ll have to carry the bike back.”
I am a creature of instant gratification, so rather than dealing with bike #1 in the daylight when I would look like less of a sketch ball, I figured, “nah, I’ll just fix up bike #2 now. I’ll deal with other stuff later.”
Caro and I spent the rest of the afternoon fixing up bike #2, and by the time I had it home, it was nearly dark, and when the clock strikes 6 in Göttingen, all shops are GESCHLOSSEN (that means closed). So naturally the best course of action was to go ride my bike to another town to visit the mega-store (think home depot). After a 30 minute bike ride one way I arrive, and I settled on two items, a new lock and a new lock cutter.
The lock cutter that I got is physically larger than my upper body, plus I had to bring it home on my bike (in a wimpy plastic bag that literally didn’t even cover the lower half of my newly acquired weapon–and YES, it’s more weapon than anything else). OK, no big deal, it was dark out, no light on my bike (also illegal) and I look like I’m going to mug someone. Great. All the same I made it back to my apartment, and once again I had a choice.
Option 1. Disadvantages: Carry bold cutters with me for the mile to the bike like a freaking criminal and look like I’m going to mug someone, then cut a giant metal lock with even more giant metal device, in the dark on the main street in town (certain to be arrested)
Advantages: You get to ride the bike back.
Option 2. Walk the mile to the bike, then carry the very heavy and awkward bike a mile uphill to my apartment on the main streets in town (certain to be arrested)
Advantages: postponing the horror –I.E. rather than being arrested immediately for carrying bolt cutters I would be arrested in 20 minutes for carrying a bike with a lock on it.
Of course I chose option 2. I mean, who wouldn’t want to have people point, laugh, judge, and condemn them while sweating profusely and having gears leave oil and cuts all over you knees and ankles!?! Sounds like my kind of good time.
I think it was the most grueling mile of my life. I’ve never been so ashamed and tired. Eventually I just lashed out and screamed back that I was NOT stealing a bike and that it was MINE! But it only made my tormenters laugh further. And anyway, what IDIOT tries to steal a bike by carrying it? And especially for such a long distance? You get a freaking car or something! You don’t just fucking tote it around if you’re a pro!
Ok, back to the story, sorry for the rage, just still feeling a little emotional. So, I’ve never been so happy to see my room in my life. I collapsed on the bed and immediately thought of the “frischkaese” spread that I had bought earlier that day. I was super-ready to indulge, so I ran down the hall, leaving my keys in a fit of ecstasy and binge-eating. Feeling a little glutinous and mostly satisfied, I returned to my room to find it locked.
Our doors lock themselves behind them. I cried, panicked, and hopped on bike #2, and sped of to my calm and reassuring Belgian friend Femke’s. She seemed rather unfazed when faced with the traumatic day I had just had, but let me use her computer to call some locksmiths in town. (Note, it’s Saturday night around 12). When he told me he couldn’t unlock student rooms, images of myself, homeless and sleeping on the street, flashed through my mind.
The locksmith informed me I would have to find the Hausmeister (wtf?) who I just blatantly didn’t know, so I frantically rang every “doorbell” outside of our dorm, until someone let me in and told me Johannes has a master key.
Phew! Sitting on my bed, I popped open some wine and drank it from the bottle. Lesson learned. Always keep a working key!!