I went to get onto my trusty bicycle this morning for a quick trip to the hardware store. As I unlocked and helmeted I noticed that the headlight that was on my bike was missing. Racking my memory, I recalled using the light on my way to work on Friday, and my bike is locked in a cage at school during the day, so the light was definitely on the bike when I locked it up in our garage on Friday evening.
I had been warned at the bike shop when I was given the light that it wasn’t completely secured to the bicycle. It was held on with just a strip of velcro and a rubber loop. I should take it off the bike, Chris said, when I parked it somewhere that wasn’t secure. I assumed that parking in a secure garage with the other residents of my condominium was “secure.” This morning, though, the light was gone.
The value of the light is not significant, I suppose. But it was a gift, given to me by the owner of the shop who sold me the bicycle. (Aforementioned Chris of Cycle Sports on Grand Avenue.) What really hurt is that the light was taken by someone who lives in my building, possibly another bicyclist. My sense of security was violated by someone with whom I may have a passing acquaintance, someone with whom I may share an occasional elevator ride or a brief conversation in the lobby or on the sidewalk. The bonds of trust that are naturally present in a small community were violated over the value of a small, relatively inexpensive object.
What’s heartbreaking is not the loss of the headlight on my bike. What breaks my heart is the sense that someone who lives in my small community has violated my trust and taken something of mine. There’s something in the symbolism of the theft of a light that makes me even sadder.