On bikes and community

I recently reported that my red bicycle was stolen while I was working late one night at The Beachcomber. It was a disappointing moment — to walk out of the office on a summer night, looking forward to a quick, brisk ride home, only to find my bike no longer in front of the paper’s storefront office.

But Vashon is a rich and tight-knit community, and I had a feeling if I looked around and asked the right people I’d get my bike back. So first I visited Jeff at Vashon Island Bicycles; he hadn’t seen it but promised he’d call if he did. I talked to a few other store owners, knowing they sometimes see what’s going on around town. And finally, I chatted with Greg, a homeless guy I know who lives not far from my own home in the woods behind Roseballen.

I mentioned my lost bike to him not because I thought someone in his circle had stolen it, but because he, more than anyone I know, is on the streets, seeing what’s happening day in and day out. If anyone would know, I thought, he would.

So Greg promised to keep an eye out. And sure enough, within about three days, he told me where I’d find my bike. It was innocuously parked in the bike rack in front of the library, its chain dangling off the sprocket, the back light busted, my helmet missing — but otherwise intact and as rideable as ever.

So what’s the moral of the story? That people from all walks of life can offer something up and help each other out. That the community is ultimately small and tightknit. And that it helps to know the right people. It’s also a lovely story about life on Vashon, a community where things do get stolen from time to time but where people — in all stations of life — routinely help each other out. In this case, a homeless guy helped out the editor of the weekly paper. It doesn’t get much sweeter than that.

— Leslie Brown, editor

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