"Hey man, ya wanna bike? Twenny dollah...twenny dollah not bad for a pretty bike...c'mom man!...fiteen..gimme fitteen...!"
I keep walking. The streets of Columbus, Ohio are populated with a lot of types in the OSU neighborood. There are doctors, lawyers, engineers, college students, and family types. There are also the occasional crackheads trying to sell whatever they've stolen, lately.
The year is 1990. I'm 29 years old, and just getting into mountain biking in a big way. I would love to have a brand-new Cannondale SM-1000 with SunTour XC Comp components and a Selle Italia Flite. But, even at this young age, I know enough about karma that I won't touch a stolen bike.
Guys have been getting mugged for mountain bikes, lately, in the rougher sections of town. Kids jump out of the alley with a baseball bat and knock the rider off of the bike, then ride away. Was this bike the spoils of a violent bike pirate attack? Probably not. This guy has the look of a scrounger, a turkey vulture circling around the college bars and dorms, looking for a target of opportunity.
"C'mon, man...ten dollah. Gimme ten dollah...y'know it's worth it!"
I give the guy five dollars, and tell him to take the bike back to where he got it. "Tell the owner you rescued it from a thief. He'll give you a reward," I tell him.
In a heart-warming after school special sort of world, the addict would take it back, and everyone would live happily ever after. But not here. Not now.
As I walk away, I can hear him behind me.
"Hey man...Hey man, ya wanna bike? Twenny dollah..."
And the vultures circle, endlessly...