Kaiser on a Roll: Keep it locked or lose it

Sun Editor Dennis Kaiser

I suppose the fault was all mine.

For the second time in less than a year I had a bicycle stolen from behind the Sun Newspapers office at 216 Main St. That is what happens when you leave anything of value unlocked for a few minutes here in quaint Old Town. So I guess I am to blame since I should know better.

Actually, I thought I did. Ever since my last bicycle was stolen during the light of the day from our parking area, I determined to always bring it inside the Sun office when I arrive, usually before dawn. I would later store it locked not 30 feet from where I spend most of my workday.

Let me tell you the inside story of my latest brush with those among us who seem to believe that unlocked means “free for the taking.”

I had rushed into work on Friday, July 2 to get ahead on the legal holiday. I knew that I would also have to work on Monday as well. I know better than to attempt to participate in our tradition of Monday holidays. I just can’t take the day off. To do the best at this job, the editorial staff of two—Assistant Editor Charles M. Kelly and myself—we believe we must work Monday holidays in order to get the paper into a proper momentum. This is because it must be done by Tuesday a.m. If we did not work all Mondays, we would probably not be proud of what we’d produce. It was, just another day and I was distracted, as usual.

So there I was, setting aside my bike as I scrambled to my desk and stoked up the computer. My attention was drawn by some e-mails that looked like potential fodder to help fill the paper with the kind of news and stories we believe our readers have come to expect.

It must have been all of five minutes that my attention was captured and then I remembered. “Oh yes, my bike. What was I thinking?”

Walked out of the office and I did not see my bike. I walked back into the office to see if somehow I had actually brought it in and forgot I had done that. It seems I do more of that these days with the stress of a very poor economy in which it doesn’t matter whom you blame—we are living in perilous times. Everyone is struggling to make it.

No, my bike was not in the office. I went back outside and saw that whoever had stolen my bike – a nice 10-speed cruiser I had purchased from my friends at Seal Beach’s Main Street Cyclery – had left behind a beat-up old silver woman’s beach cruiser. Next to the cruiser was a little basket that appeared to be being used to collect plastic bottles from Old Town trashcans.

I’m no Sherlock Holmes, but apparently, the thief was one of those people who visit our trashcans and dumpsters in the pre-dawn hours. I assume he was thieving his way up the ladder and seeing my bike was of a much higher quality, decided to make a trade – without giving me the right of refusal.

Had he asked, I would have refused, of course. But I don’t believe there is any way to think that stealing my bike, poor as this person might be, could ever be said to be the right thing to do.

I really don’t care if some people need to glean bottles and cans from our trash. Even the Bible says that farmers should leave behind a certain percentage of produce so that truly poor may find a way to survive and maybe eventually matriculate into respectable members of our society. We never know when any of us might fall on one or the other sides of this equation between rich and poor. However, I don’t include my bike in such a proposition.

I have talked to neighbors around the Sun office. It is staggering to hear the stories that seem to point to the fact that gleaning bottles and cans may be one thing, but it appears nothing is safe that is not tied down really well, or inside our home and buildings where more and more we seem to hide out of necessity – whether that is from thieves in the night or yes, a seemingly expanding coyote population that has an indelible taste for pet food – only it’s the pet that is the food. But I digress…

Don’t worry all you folks who have commented on seeing me ride my bike around town. I am going to go get another one— and a big chain as well.

Dennis Kaiser is the Sun Newspapers editor.