By Kasey Marshall
There once was a time when I foolishly believed that the key to preventing bike theft was to have a bike not worth stealing. Much like my bike, sadly, those days were gone. On one fateful Saturday night, I entrusted my trusty steed to the bike rack outside McClurg, knowing that I would be unable to take it home that night for reasons undisclosed. In a careless lapse of judgement, I gave up on a bike that never gave up on me. Worse still, I didn’t realize my mistake until the following night. As with anyone facing loss, I suffered grief in stages:
Denial: I couldn’t believe someone had stolen my bike; in all honesty, it’s a piece of garbage. Naïvely convincing myself that I drunkenly stole my own bike, I searched every bike rack I frequented. By the waters of Lake Trez, I sat down and wept.
Anger: The realization that I had fallen victim to a classic Sewanee crime filled me with rage. I’m a virgin who can’t drive! I live in Quintard, for God’s sake! How could someone do this to me!?
Bargaining: Fury fueled my resulting search campaign. Short of taping pictures of my bike to milk cartons, I did everything within my power. I made posters with Comic Sans to both juxtapose the weighty content and enhance memetic transmission. I rallied my friends and acquaintances. I pled with the faceless masses. I got mistaken for a treztitute as I desperately searched the surrounding waters. I even made a Facebook page.
Acceptance: Despite my efforts, I recalled all that I learned from my crime show phase: the first 48 hours are most critical for finding missing persons. Extrapolating this statistic to my bike, I silently lost hope. I resorted to planning a memorial service, photoshopping the infamous Titanic pose onto Lake Trez and relearning “My Heart Will Go On” on the recorder.
Reduced to the plebeian status of a pedestrian, I patrolled the lonely streets, racked up quintardies™, and did my damnedest to forget my heartbreak. But try as I might, nostalgia assaulted me at all hours. As consolation, a dean was kind enough to loan me their bike. However, it had neither gears nor brakes and was therefore incompatible with my offroad lifestyle. My muscles and heart ached with every pedal toward my therapy appointment, which culminated in vomiting on the side of the Mountain Goat Trail. Haughty mountain bikers judged me as I laid collapsed by a bright yellow cruiser bike. Then I had become death, destroyer of worlds.
A crime committed in drunken thoughtlessness, bike theft causes a great deal of suffering. Thankfully, I found comfort in my friends and memes, which gave me the strength to go on with my life. Naturally, this would be the time to find my bike. Trudging back from the Sewanee Market on foot, I saw her leaned against a tree outside Gorgas. Tchaikovsky’s love theme from Romeo and Juliet filled the air as I ran to embrace my bike. The thief apparently abandoned her because they threw the chain out of alignment and didn’t know how to fix it. My bike made her way back to me through her own mediocrity and I’ve never been more proud. I returned to my room and cried for half an hour.
This is nowhere close to the end of this emotional roller coaster, but you get the point. I went through all this trouble just because some drunk dude didn’t feel like walking back to Gorgas. Such crimes go against the Sewanee values I know and think are okay. I can leave my computer and schoolwork (which are of marginally greater value) in duPont and proceed to McClurg without fear. How is it any different for my bike, which I got for free in the basement of the Tennessee Williams Center? Unfortunately, bike theft is widespread. Former Trez resident (or Trezident) Ben McKenzie (C’ 17) retold how “during Spring party [my] freshman year I fished three bikes out of the lake in one morning alone.” Which brings me to another question: why would you scrap someone’s bike once you’re finished “borrowing” it? To approach this perennial problem, we must challenge the cognitive dissonance surrounding the act. As Sewanee students, we proudly uphold the Honor Code. Is there a bike exception clause I don’t know about? To make Sewanee as right as we know it is, we must hold ourselves accountable for our actions and the ways in which they affect others. If this has done nothing to convince you, just take Claire Burgess’ (C’ 17) words to heart: “Stealing bikes is bad and you should feel bad.”