You know how sometimes you commit a crime, like, totally by mistake?
Happens to everyone: I KNOW!
(That’s what I tried to tell the police, but their response was noncommittal.)
So . . . last month, I accidentally stole a bike. Here’s how it went down: the kids and I were kicking around at the playground and as the sun set we were the last die-hard revellers. I lashed my protesting progeny into their carseats (“But Mummy I didn’t go on da slide Mummee!” “Saoirse, PUT your ARMS in the STRAPS!”) and, as I limped to the driver seat, I noticed a bike abandoned by the barbeque stand.
Obvs some kid had legged it home forgetting he’d got there by pedal-power, perhaps pausing momentarily by the backdoor to wonder why he had a bike helmet on his head.
So I took the bike. For safekeeping. Tried not to project furtiveness as I scanned the playground for the owner; then downplayed the suspicious efficiency with which I loaded it onto the suspiciously available bike-rack affixed to the back of the Prius.
I suffered a twinge of doubt as I pulled away slowly (to avoid the suspicious screech of rubber on asphalt) which wasn’t helped by the kids asking why I had taken someone’s bike and was it ours now? – but I was cheered by my charitable act of good goodness.
As soon as I got home, I posted to the local Facebook Page:
Lost your bike?
Picked up an unlocked bike at The Playground this evening – PM me if it’s yours.
The post gathered a number of likes (although I was confused by several shocked :-O Reactions) until someone finally commented: “Nobody locks their bike at The Playground.”
I tried to defrost the chilly overtone with my response and got a bit of banter going about bikenapping HAHAHA, until ‘April*’ (*Her real Facebook name) commented: ‘Look can you return the bike and delete this post because it just draws attention to the fact that the kids leave their bikes unlocked at The Playground’.
It’s comforting to know we live in such an honest, caring community.
Although WOWSERS kinda fucking bitchy.
I deleted the post because, despite being a fucking bitch, well, um, she had a point.
However I didn’t return the bike because yanno SHE CAN’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO.
But also, having taken the bike, if someone even bitchier stole it after I’d returned it, then that would technically be my fault.
The following day I drove back to The Playground and plastered printed notices with my contact details around the place.
The day after that, nobody had responded to the notice.
That night I couldn’t sleep what with trying to come to terms with my new identity as a Criminal Mastermind.
I had nightmares about Husband visiting me in prison, his jaw clenched in pain and anger, muttering: “I just want to know one thing: why did you do it?”
Me: “By the time I realised, I was in too deep! Will you- will you wait for me?”
Husband: “Yeah look, probably not.”
And my poor, malnourished children, crying: “Mummy I love you!” “Mummy when are you coming home mummeee? Daddy’s cooking is stinky-poo.”
And me, sobbing: “Sweeties, I’m so so sorry, but I’m not up for parole for three more years,” then staggering back to my cell bandy-legged from the cigarettes stashed up my bum (and I don’t even smoke).
Actually, Husband found it all certifiably hilarious, and whenever I tried to discuss The Situation he reverted to uncontrollable sniggering.
On Friday – four days after the heist – I decided to turn myself in.
Fittingly, it was lashing rain.
“I’ve committed a crime,” I announced to the officer on duty.
He appraised me in my mummy scarf and mummy pumps, evaporating the discernible reek of rank dog, and totally judged me.
It was evidently a slow evening at Wanaka Police Station, so he called over a colleague: “Pam, get the handcuffs. Lady here stole a bike.” Then he made me repeat the story, occasionally interjecting with a ploddy question.
It was less than stellar police-work and, frankly, I was offended by how lightly he and his colleague treated the whole affair. I felt like saying, “Oy, pigs: it’s not like I nicked a chip of some toddler’s plate. Stole a fackin set of wheels, din’ I?”
But that would have been, well, rude; so I waited politely until they’d finished snorting.
Pam advised me to drop the bike into the station – any time; she was on duty until Monday morning – but since I was extremely uncomfortable being in possession of stolen good, I went straight home, collected the bike and committed it into the loving embrace of the long arms of the law.
As I drove away, my phone blonked.
Text message> Hi, I think you took my sons bike out of concern for theft?? Where can he come collect it from?
Me> Hi, yes I did, terribly sorry; didn’t understand bikes are generally left unlocked at The Playground. I dropped it into the Police Station literally 5 mins ago, he can grab it there. Cheers
The Mother> Oh gosh really?
The Mother> Oh dear
The Mother> Can you pop back there?
Not Me> You ‘avin a fackin larf, sweetheart?
I called The Mother. Per the largely one-sided conversation, I think apparently her car was at the garage?? (oh yeah see how I was right onto her like cheap lycra??) and the bike wouldn’t fit in her work van because it was full of crap and she was so busy (subtext: it was raining so hard and she hadn’t finished her limited edition boxset of the last season of Game of Thrones) so would I deliver it to her house, preferably tonight because her son wanted to use it over the weekend?
So I returned to the station, where Pam was probably thinking I would be less trouble if I actually were a hardened criminal who could dispense cigarettes out my sphincter. She was pretty grumpy about having to fetch the bike from the storage room.
When I got to the house, The Injured Party himself opened the door. He scowled silently.
“Hi!” I chirped, then: “Oh, right- oh, here’s your bike! Sorry um . . .” I skulked soggily for a moment, waiting for him to say thanks – or anything – to no avail. He glared me all the way back to my car. I made sure to bypass all churches on the way home, in case I was impaled by a lightning rod.
So that’s the last fucking time I do a good turn.
Only kidding! I’ll always be that busybody buttinsky who asks the child in the carpark where his mother is when she’s right behind him; or picks up the distressed toddler for a headbutt; or performs an active drowning victim rear rescue on the teenager in the pool who merely has an inelegant freestyle. Because although I might get it wrong more often than not, I hope and trust other people will do the same for my kids