How I Narrowly Avoided Incarceration

Ed on the ground with boot on headThe Dilemma

As I rode my vintage Cannondale bicycle to a meeting with Gathering Waters Design this morning, I wondered, “Where will I lock this beautiful machine in the sketchy neighborhood around Gathering Waters?”

When I got there, I looked for a bike rack by Gathering Waters and found none. I was early so I rode around the nearby fire station to see if they had a bike rack. They didn’t. I decided to lock up to a tree in front of Gathering Waters.

After I looped the cable through the wheels, frame and around the tree, I closed the lock and yanked on it several times to make sure it was latched, I stepped back and surveyed the situation. It was right on busy 4th street. Surely no one would steal it in broad daylight.

My bike by the tree in front of Gathering Waters Design

There is my old, dirty, wonderful Cannondale by the organic bike rack in front of Gathering Waters Design.

I checked the time on my iPod and I was too early for my meeting. I decided to walk around a little. I sauntered down 4th Street looking at the houses and craning my neck to see gardens in back yards. I turned back toward Gathering Waters, but after checking the time, I turned around again to continue my walk around the block. I studied the garage on the corner thinking, “That looks like the place where we picked up our parakeet after her failed escape attempt.”

The Bust

I didn’t have time to walk around the whole block so I turned into the alley, thinking, “It’s just a residential alley in a rough neighborhood. I will probably make it.” A few paces into the alley, I heard a car behind me. I turned to see a shiny, black Ford SUV turning into the alley. I moved to the side of the alley to continue my walk, and I nodded to the professional looking man in the passenger seat of the passing SUV. Then the vehicle turned to cut off my progress, the doors flew open and two young men stepped quickly out and stood on my right and my left. Immediately, I thought, “Oh no, the fuzz.”

The tall, dark-haired cop was on my left. The shorter red head was on my right. The tall cop did the talking. “Sir, can I ask you a couple questions?”

I said, “Sure,”

“Can you take your hand out of your pocket?”

“Sure.” I removed the offending hand.

He said, “What is your name?”

“I’m Eddie… Eddie Hale.”

“We saw you looking at that bike on the other side of the block. There have been a lot of thefts of higher end bikes in this neighborhood, and we wondered — what are you doing?”

I smiled a broad smile and said, “That’s my bike.”

He smiled back and said, “Oh… Can I ask you what you are doing in the neighborhood?”

“Sure, I have a meeting at that little church building on the corner. I got here way too early, so I thought I would walk around the block to kill some time.”

He said, “Oh. Okay. We saw you looking at that bike, and we pulled over. We said, ‘If he pulls a bolt cutter out of that backpack, we’ve got him.’”

I said, “Do you think my bike is safe there while I go to my meeting?”

He said, “Well… um… er… ya know… probably. I mean it’s on a busy street, and most of the thefts happen at night, though some of them have been happening during the day lately.”

I said, “Hmmm… Okay.”

Tall cop said, “Can I see your identification for the record?”

I pulled out my wallet (he was not worried about my hands venturing into my nefarious pockets anymore) and showed him my driver’s license. They both wished me a good day and got back in the car. I walked briskly toward my meeting and waved as they passed me on their way out of the alley.

A Better Place for a Bike

When I got in the little former church building, I was greeted by the photographer who owns the place. He said, “Go on up. They’re expecting you.”

I said, “Can I ask you a question? A police officer just wondered if I was stealing my own bike out in front of the building…”

He interrupted and said, “Sure, bring it in.” I went back out and wheeled my bike into the photography studio and leaned it on the wall. I went to my meeting and regaled my cohorts with the story of my brush with the law. They thought I was dressed too well to be a bike thief.

My wife thought it was ironic that I seldom arrive early for anything, and the time I when I do show up early, I almost get busted for it.

So you can all rest easy. My vintage Cannondale is still my vintage Cannondale. And the La Crosse cops know there is one bad guy you don’t mess with when he’s in the ‘hood.

The Making of…

The reveal. Claire wearing Dad's pants and boot, with boot on Dad's head.

I think Claire enjoyed the making of the “Boot on Head” photo a little too much.


8 thoughts on “How I Narrowly Avoided Incarceration

  1. I do not read blogs, especially those written by people who have the summers off. I dislike blogs, because bloggers have time to write. That’s pure jealousy, which not something I’m proud of. At least pride is not one of my issues. Wen-way, you tell a fine story my friend, and kudos for getting your daughter to help with the foot to the head…I was sure it was Edward.

  2. The internet is a place of weirdness. I stumbled upon this blog as I was searching for a picture of a man with a boot on his head, and used this one, ideally I wanted it to be in a pool of mud (I think saw this series called the William Tell Adventures (20 years ago?), and there was a scene where he overpowers the main villain, and pushes his head into mud, and possibly squashed it a bit under his foot, rather than killing him).

    Why look for such an image? Penultimate day of the PGCE (teacher training), all were asked for a picture to sum up their experience…

    More bizarrely, I do cycle and drive, and this whole bike locking pain I am familiar with, however this idea of having to show your driving licence is not. In the 32 years since I obtained my license, I have only carried it maybe twice, despite having driven 32,000 miles one year for example. I was asked to produce it just once, way back in 1989 because a Policeman thought I’d changed direction to avoid him, as I didn’t have it, I was asked to show it at a local Police Station of my choosing within a week, the usual. My license is one of a dwindling number that are paper based, i.e. a folded printed sheet with no photo. As I have not changed ‘base’ address since ’87, unless the government expires them all and forces a reapplication for photo cards, that they almost did a few years back, it will remain valid until its expiry in 2039.

    Ahmad, UK.

    • Ahmad, I am usually jealous of other peoples’ bikes. But now I am jealous that you still have and use your first paper folder drivers license. Thank you for the nice comment. I am sorry your day of training made you feel as if there was a boot on your head, but I am glad the image was useful to you. (I am a teacher too.)

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