That One Time I THOUGHT About Stealing a Bike…From a Child.

16 02 2011

Have you ever had one of those moments where you realize that you could do something really zany and unpredictable, but you hold yourself back?

Oh, come on. I can’t be the only one.

You know, it’s that feeling you get when you’re carefully tending to a gigantic bonfire. You sit there, mesmerized by the scorching flames, and suddenly you’re struck with the thought:

“I could totally stick my leg in here and melt my foot right off in a matter of seconds.”

Or, that feeling you get while driving next to a cliff. You know, that wicked inner prompting that says, “All I would have to do is swerve my car a few feet to the right, and I’m toast.”

Fine. I know you’ve all had these thoughts. You just don’t want to admit it—because then you’ll sound as crazy as me.

This weekend, I had one of these bizarre moments where I could have done something utterly unpredictable, but I didn’t.

It was a beautiful weekend, so I threw on the dogs’ leashes and headed down to the local park. (Well, that’s not entirely accurate–that description makes it sound like it’s easy to leash up two dogs whose biggest joy in life is to jump. Hooking them up to their leashes is more like trying to tame two rabid monkeys who have escaped from the circus and are bent on destroying a small village as quickly as they can.)

We were about halfway into our two-mile walk on a lovely little path, when a young boy came racing up behind me on his bicycle. He slowed his bike down until he was riding alongside me, and said very matter-of-factly:

“Your dogs are adorable.”

I laughed, and said, “Thanks.”

Watch out! I'm desperate!

I expected this young gentleman to race off and continue his crazed bicycle competition with an imaginary opponent. Instead, he surprised me and rode his bike next to me…for the next mile or so.

Now, I’ve said this before—I don’t know what it is, but strange children literally find me and follow me around all the time when I’m out in public. This is not an isolated incident, as odd as it sounds. In a way, I suppose it’s a good validation of my job, which is working with kids. But it’s still a bit disconcerting.

I asked this young man where his parents were. He vaguely motioned behind him and said, “Oh, back there somewhere.”

Oh. Ok. I’m glad they’re so trusting of a complete stranger.

It was about at that moment when I thought to myself, “I could totally steal this kid’s bike, and no one would even notice.”

No—am I that evil? Would I ever in a million years actually steal a bike? Not at all. I’ve experienced the pain of having my bike stolen—I would never do that to a child. Or anyone else, for that matter.

But when your dogs are dragging you along uphill and weaving this way and that in their trademark Australian Shepherd madness, you apparently daydream about stealing someone’s bicycle and ditching your dogs with a nine-year-old child so that you don’t have to put up with them sniffing and crossing in and out between your legs incessantly for the next mile.

Don’t worry. I didn’t steal his bike. But the actual end of the story is a bit stranger.

As I neared the end of the trail, the boy’s sister came flying by us on her bike. She was just a streak of blonde hair and tie-dyed cotton. As she zoomed by, her brother shouted her name and hollered, “No fair!”

What?!

I know her!

Wait…I know the sister of a random kid at the park?

Really–what are the chances?

I turned to my new friend and nearly gave him a heart attack by recounting everything I knew about his sister. I then revealed that we went to the same church, and that his older sister was in my youth group.

He then spontaneously smiled up at me and said, “Yeah, I figured you were cool. I saw your cross key chain and thought, ‘She must be alright’.”

Good. I’m glad that this little dude based his perceptions of a total stranger on my key chain. That’s very wise.

We laughed, and I later introduced myself to their mother. What started out as a very peculiar situation—a total stranger riding his bike next to me for so long—turned into a funny and endearing story that speaks to the small town in which we live.

And today, while up at the elementary school where I tutor at once a week, I saw my bicycle-riding little buddy walking in the hall.

It made me smile and think to myself, “It’s a small and strange world…here in Oakville, anyway.”

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