Police Involvement

On Labor Day, the kids were away and my parents and I decided to do a bike ride in the late afternoon.  It would be like the one I took with William recently and described in an earlier post—through Gallop Park and into Ann Arbor—although a little bit longer.

I was busy cleaning the bathrooms and doing some laundry, (the sorts of exciting things I do when the kids are away), when I realized I was going to be late.  No worries, though; we didn’t have much of a schedule to keep.  But I was in a bit of a rush to load the bike on the car, change out of the pants I was wearing because they smelled of shower cleaner, and head out.  (Danger! Foreshadowing alert!)

We finally arrived at the park and started our ride.  What a great day to be out!  It was cool, the sun was behind clouds so not beating down on you and even with the clouds threatening, it didn’t rain.

When we made it into Ann Arbor proper, we found that our planned dinner stop was closed.  So was our next idea.  What was going on?  Oh, duh!  It’s Labor Day!  We finally found an Indian place on Main Street that was open, locked up the bikes and headed in for a nice meal.  Although now I’m feeling bad about giving places a reason to be open on Labor Day.

We leave the restaurant with about an hour of daylight left—more than enough to get back to the car and head home.  But there was a problem…I couldn’t find the key to my bike lock.  I remembered putting it in my pocket sometime before leaving the house, but didn’t remember seeing or using it after then.  So, what to do?

Luckily, my parents had used their own locks, so we at least had use of two bikes.  My dad offered to pay for a cab to take me back to the car where I’d presumably find my keys, (I thankfully had my car key), and could drive back to pick them and my bike up.  Instead, I decided that I’d leave my parents at Starbucks and ride back to the car on my dad’s bike.  Hey, no sense in spending money if you don’t have to, right?  I suppose I thought it would also help drive home a lesson that I should keep better track of my keys.  Although I doubt it—this isn’t the first time I’ve left keys on the car.  Sometimes it has even been the keys to the car itself after locking the doors.  In fact, the last time I did this was with my parents after a softball game and we all, (including the kids), ended up sitting around for an hour for a locksmith to arrive trying to avoid the mosquitos.

Off I went!  My parents wouldn’t mind, but I didn’t want to leave them sitting around too long, so hoofed it out of town.  Besides I wanted to see what sort of pace I could keep, and this was supposed to be a “lesson” right?  My dad later estimated that I averaged 15MPH for 5 miles.  All I knew is at the end of it, and for a good half of the ride before then, I was breathing hard and my legs were threatening mutiny.

Now, I had pretty much gotten into the mindset that the keys wouldn’t be in the car and were probably at home, but I held out hope that I was wrong.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t wrong—the keys were nowhere to be found.

Oh, well, Back to Starbucks to pick up the parents and my mom’s bike while trying to figure out what to do about my own.  I really wasn’t looking forward to driving all the way back home, picking up keys assuming that’s where they were, driving the 40 minutes back into Ann Arbor, picking up the bike, and driving the 40 minutes home again.  However, we decided trying to free the bike ourselves on Main Street in Ann Arbor probably wasn’t a good idea.  We talked about asking the police to cut it lose, but my dad didn’t think they’d just do that without some proof of ownership.  I decided to give it a try, though—hey, I’m a pretty honest looking guy, right?

We park a block away from the police station, (I had forgotten how fun it was to try and park in Ann Arbor), leave my mom in the car, and walk over.  The station is locked up, but there’s a little intercom by the door which I use to explain the situation to the voice at the other end.  He seems confused and asks me to hold on a couple times.  Finally he says someone is looking into it and to wait.  So we do for a while until an officer appears.  It turns out he was the one at the other end of the intercom and he tells us that someone is looking for some bolt cutters and to wait some more.  A while later, another officer appears and says he couldn’t find any cutters in his car, but he could get some in about 15 minutes and that he’d meet us at the bike.  For some reason, I had the image of him going home to pull them out of his own private stash.  But really, I figured he was just going to go across the street to the fire station.

We head back to the car to pick up my mom when another officer appears.  It turns out that my mom had been standing around and he had come over earlier to ask her if she was OK.  (I was getting the impression that these guys were pretty bored that night—not that that’s a bad thing as it means things are quiet.)  She had explained the situation and he went to check his car.  I mean, I guess these patrol cars are shared so you may find things in them you didn’t expect, or not find things that you did expect, but it just seemed funny that everyone’s first thought was to “check their car”.

But, he couldn’t find any.  He explained to me that their “command truck” where they had things like this was in the shop.  I thought about asking what would happen if they suddenly needed their seeming singular “command truck”, but figured I’d just stick with the idea that they surely had some contingency plan.  I guess that’s another reason it’s good that it seemed like a fairly boring night for them…

Back to the bike!  The second officer we met that night shows up in a bit with some bolt cutters.  He puts them over the cable, squeezes, and…nothing happens other than a few scratches appearing on the plastic covering the cable.  After a few more tries, I end up holding the cable tight while he’s pumping the handles and twisting.  But the most that happens is more of the protective plastic peels off.  So he decides to go after the lock itself.  Now we’re seeing some more progress!  The plastic coating not only scrapes away, but there are definite cuts in the metal underneath.  It’s still not enough for a complete severing, though.  He’s cutting while I’m turning it to give different angles while also trying to twist it apart.  I’m about to give up hoping that the firemen I supposed loaned these cutters to us weren’t relying on them to do anything important when the lock finally snaps!  I think I saw the couple people watching all this from inside the Indian restaurant start clapping.

We thank the officers, (they were all really nice), load up the final bike, and head to my parent’s house to drop them off.  My dad thought it would be funny to call up the police and report a bike stolen outside of an Indian restaurant…

When I made it back to my house, (much earlier if I had to go back to Ann Arbor to retrieve my bike, though), I found my keys.  They were in the pocket of the pants I had changed out of just before leaving…

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