“To the person (or persons) who stole my bike seat on Friday, September 19th:” the note read.
The Clybourn Metra station is a mishmash of roads below and train overpasses above, with the Kennedy Expressway grazing by to the west. Up above the noise and cars of Ashland, Cortland, Armitage, the Union Pacific/North Line and the Union Pacific/Northwest Line share a flat, gravel-covered area that, sure why not, call it a “platform.”
The platform splits the further north you get, eventually ending with a series of stairs down to a parking area, some pedestrian tunnels and a bike rack where someone had taped a note to a bike seat thief.
“You are the worst. I mean just the worst,” the note continued. “While you were stealing my bike seat, I was sitting in soul-crushing beige cube for 10 hours. Why? Well, I do that five days a week because I don’t steal things from people.”
A light breeze flicked the corners of the note. People streamed by to haul themselves up one of the sets of stairs to the platform for the morning rush.
“I couldn’t wait to get off the train that evening, ride my beautiful bike back to my apartment and not sit a beige cube for two days. But, I couldn’t do that because you stole my bike seat because you are the worst.
“Don’t worry … I’ve learned my lesson: I can’t have nice things. Thank you for teaching me that, you horrible person. If you actually needed the proceeds from my stolen bike seat to feed your family, fine. Since that’s highly unlikely, I have decided to comfort myself by imagining you attempting to steal a bike seat from a sword-wielding ninja cyclist and losing what is probably your most prized appendage. (Yes, I’m talking about your dick.)
“Just to reiterate in case it wasn’t clear—you are the worst.”
I chuckled, took a picture and hauled myself up a set of stairs in time to catch the 319 to Evanston Davis.
Now, I’ve had my problems with petty theft at that station as well, but I handled it with grace, aplomb and some language I had to tone down from the original “I hope a cannibal shits in your mouth.”
So I understand the note-leaver’s desire to see the little gonif get his dick chopped off by ronin on Schwinns.
But one phrase in the note kept me thinking as the train pulled me north and men in crisp shirts and special hats wandered by to check my monthly.
It was the beige cube.
I get that the note was trying to elicit pity, but the real hand-wringing histrionic bits (“I can’t have nice things”) did nothing for me. It was the side references, the bits less resolutely aimed at suffering that did me in.
The person talked about a “soul-crushing beige cube” and it was “beige” that got me.
So, to the person who wrote the note I saw on September 23rd:
You’re not the worst. You might not have the best life right now, but there’s nothing that says it has to stay that way. Life doesn’t have to be a beige cube during the week, not-a-beige-cube on weekends and bike rides in between.
The bike rides can get longer. You can get a new job. You can change the situation you’re in rather than flicker in and out of beige and hope everything gets better.
Change isn’t fast, dramatic or prepackaged in a form we would find meaningful. But it can happen maybe sorta someday if you try.
It’s possible, let’s say. And it’s a little more likely than dick-chopping bike ninjas.