Part of my childhood was spent growing up in a dirty, mid sized industrial city. In the sample chapter titled “Will”, I spoke about how my Dad had his car stolen. I also had items stolen on a regular basis…usually my bike.
The reason for this was simple; I didn’t lock it up every time I got off of it. For instance, one time I ran into a 7/11 for maybe two minutes to buy a soda and by the time I exited the store, my bike was gone.
Fortunately, some friends saw the kids who stole it. The store owner, who was now convinced these same kids had probably shoplifted him, called the cops to report the stolen bike.
Within what seemed like no time at all, the police were there and asked my friends to describe the kids. All they had was “they were black”. Back in the good old days, this was not profiling as much as an indicator as to what neighborhood they were from. The Hispanics lived in one part of town, the Italians another, the blacks yet another, and so on.
We drove to the “black” part of town in the cop car and saw a bunch of kids sitting around on their bikes. The cops asked if I recognized my bike and I said I couldn’t be sure. As I sat in the back of the cruiser, they got out and proceeded to knock each kid off of the bike he was sitting on. One by one they tumbled, cursing and screaming police brutality. This seemed to only agitate the two cops.
Finally, after each bike had been brought over to me, I could not identify mine. The cops seemed more discourage than even I was. At least they weren’t going to have to face the wrath of my Dad.
As we started to pull away, I noticed that one of the bikes had the initials “SB” embedded in the bottom of it. My bike! My Dad always pounded our initials into everything we owned. After about a 30 second disagreement with the kids, the cops seized the bike and threw it in the trunk.
All was right with the world. I had my bike back and, except for the fact that they had pulled all of the handlebar tape off and jacked up the hand breaks, it would be like it never happened. Except for one tiny problem…
I went to school with those kids. I knew them and they knew me. To make a long story short, I was thrown into the lockers on a regular basis each time I saw these guys for the remainder of the school year. They never really hurt me…just wanted to make sure that I understood who was in charge. Knowing that these kids could inflict much more serious damage to me, I had no problem with that.
In retrospect, I was quite the pussy back then, wasn’t I?