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Suffering a loss-and then moving on

By Randy Wright | China Daily | Updated: 2017-06-21 10:00

I lost my best friend last year, my partner, my intimate companion, my confidant, my buddy, my pal-one who had carried me without complaint, through storms and sunshine alike. The sense of emptiness and loss was profound.

Yes, my bicycle was stolen.

I left it cabled to a steel fence near a Beijing shopping mall and ducked inside for a few minutes. When I returned, the bike had vanished.

I quickly passed through all the stages of grief-first shock, then denial, then anger, depression and, finally, acceptance. It had been taken ... TAKEN! Where is Liam Neeson when you need him?

Theft is a low crime-and an especially unexpected one in Beijing, where people are normally welcoming and honest. Why would anybody do this to me? What did I do wrong? Many thoughts tumbled through my mind as I trudged glumly home.

For some people, pets become part of the family. For me it was a black-and-green aluminum Giant, with special grips, composite fenders, lights front and rear, electronic speedometer and a basket to carry stuff. It really was a nice bike.

And it cost me 5,000 yuan ($730). That brought real tears to my eyes.

I considered posting pictures on lampposts and in subways: "Have you seen this bike? Reward!" For more than a year I nursed my pain, scrutinizing virtually every bicycle that happened by-anything that remotely resembled my lost friend, even though I knew finding it was about as likely as Neeson NOT catching up with the bad guys.

To this day, I haven't abandoned hope. Like the parent of a kidnapped child, I never stop looking. I'll never forget you, buddy!

And then, on a recent weekend, as I was walking with my wife on a crowded street near home, there it was! A man was riding alongside a female companion on MY BIKE!

I began chasing him and would have caught up, but as I ran, my mind was running faster. Suppose I catch him. He will be angry. There's all these Chinese people, and I don't speak the language. There'll be a public disturbance. I'm likely to get beaten up. The female companion will claw my eyes out. The police will come. And besides, this guy probably didn't steal my bike but bought it from somebody else.

I gradually slowed to a walk and gave up. Oh, heck, let him keep it.

I bought another bike with a similar color scheme. Now I use three locks-a heavy wheel lock, a cable lock and a fold-out bar lock. I always pull the seat and carry it with me. A thief will likely look at this setup and decide it's not worth the trouble. As they say in New York, "Fahgettaboudit!"

True, I now have to put up with old men at the locker room at the gym who openly laugh at the laowai who pulls a bicycle seat out of his gym bag. But I can live with that.

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