Just how many bikes is one expected to sacrifice to Malmö’s Central Station anyway?
Until this past Monday.
When I got off the train at 5 p.m., I couldn’t immediately find it among the sea of bikes on the parking platform that floats in the canal adjacent to the station. This is not unusual … the platform is practically as big as a football field and it’s often hard to remember which row of racks I’ve left it in. When I did finally locate the exact spot where it had been parked, all that remained was the cable lock, coiled up neatly next to the rack.
I thought I was going to be physically ill.
First because I’d managed to get a second bike stolen in less than two weeks (this time in broad daylight), but mostly because it was my beloved “Ol’ Blue”, which I’d hauled all the way from the U.S. and ridden all the way to Oslo. It wasn’t worth anything to anyone but me (or possibly a U.S. collector … there is actually a market for vintage Trek bike frames at home but not here).
So I walked home on the verge of tears and wordlessly presented the cut cable lock to Dr. Darling, who immediately understood both what had happened and my emotional reaction to it. I can’t recall the last time I’ve seen her THAT angry. After she called the police to report the theft (she’s getting to be quite the expert at it), we talked a bit about who might have taken and why. She reasoned that it was probably a kid, or if an adult did take it, they probably realized it wasn’t that great of a bike after they’d ridden it for a bit, not to mention the fact that it’s rather distinct-looking with extra long bar-ends I had installed in the U.S. Maybe we’d find it abandoned somewhere close to the station?
Well, neither one of us really believed we had a snowball’s chance in hell of finding it, but we HAD to do something besides sit around the apartment feeling sad and angry. So we hauled my one remaining bike (which never leaves my sight) up from the basement and headed out. We scanned all the bike racks at the station, then checked the Malmö University campus, followed by the skateboard park and the new swimming facilities out in the Western Harbor. And of course we didn’t find it … but we both felt better for at least making the effort.
And then, as we approached the intersection closest to the harbor-side of the train station, we both noted a man approaching from the left on what appeared to a bicycle that was much too small for him. We slowed down to take a closer look, and sure enough … he was riding Ol’ Blue! We charged across the street and stopped him without even thinking about the possible consequences … and in very firm and measured English I said, “Excuse me, but you’re riding my bike.”
Once he got over the shock of being descended upon by what he initially thought we two very unhappy American tourists, he explained that he had bought the bike around noon from a guy at Malmö Central who said he needed money for a train ticket. And because the bike was obviously too small for him and he didn’t come across as stupid enough to ride a bike that HE had actually stolen in the same area he’d stolen it, both Dr. Darling and I believed him.
He then admitted that he figured there was a chance that the guy who sold it to him had stolen it, and he seemed happy to give it back to us even though he was out 200 crowns. In fact, he didn’t even want to check that the serial number on the underside of the frame matched the one on the post-it note my ever-prepared Swede was carrying in her pocket.
So, two hours after I discovered my bike was had been stolen from the Central Station, it was back in my possession. And because we no longer have a lock for it, it spent the night in the living room … where we just stared at it for the entire evening in disbelief.