To the Editor:
I lost a little trust in my fellow man yesterday and that’s a lot to say at the age of 70. Maybe the surprise should be that it’s taken that long in my life to feel that way. My bicycle was stolen. Maybe not the biggest thing to happen in the world but it’s really bothering me.
That bike and I had been through a lot, and it was the first big gift my husband gave me after we met. I had a lot of sentiment and memories attached to my bike, and it had traveled from Maine to Hawaii and then back mainland to Ohio.
Yes, it wasn’t locked up with the other bikes in our group, only because the bike chain wasn’t long enough to cover four bikes. But that shouldn’t be such a determining factor. I guess I was relying on the innate honesty of people to not take it because it wasn’t theirs.
That’s where my trust in my fellow man got lost, It was beside other bikes that were locked – why would someone think that it was all right to take the one that wasn’t? I grew up in a time and place where you didn’t take other people’s things. At least that’s what I was taught.
To use a quote from the Bangor, Maine Facebook page: “Keep your hands to yourself, leave other people’s things alone, and be kind to one another.” That’s what should be happening in an ideal world, and I used to believe, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that it was still mostly that way.
When we lived in Honolulu, Hawaii, a big city, I kind of expected that I would have to watch out for my things more carefully and I did, though I never really felt unsafe. When we moved to Athens last year, I felt that now we were in the kind of town where we didn’t have to be so vigilant. I guess I was wrong and that realization has made me feel a lot older.
And even though I’ve heard people say that the college students are the cause of a lot of problems, most of them haven’t returned yet. To think that someone who lives here all the time felt that they were entitled to take something that clearly wasn’t theirs makes me even more sad. Sad that my trust is gone and sad that Athens isn’t the kind of place that I thought it was.
Now I know that may be using too broad a brush for one incident but I’m feeling raw right now. I hope that the goodness of Athens will show itself again and I will feel trust again.
However, one day later, a few small incidents have made me feel much better – kindness from a neighbor when we were out for our nightly walk and a caring connection with a wonderful man from the library. Athens has made me feel better and maybe, just maybe, my bike will be returned. At my age, all we have is hope.