Day’?s Verse:
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
Hebrews 11:1

The last two weeks, I’ve had a strange, somewhat disturbing experience with my bike. Well—not so much the bike itself. Let me explain.

At work, I lock my bike to the stair railing inside the employee entrance, which you have to swipe your card to get in. Since November, that has worked out well. I lock my bike there, work for the day, and come back in the evening to find everything exactly as I left it. Then, for some reason, twice in the last two weeks I came down to find my front headlight blazing steadily away. The first time I thought, “Oh, maybe I accidentally left it on somehow,” although I felt 99% positive I’d turned my lights off as usual*. The next day I specifically turned my light off and remembered it throughout the day. When I came down, the light was once again on, shining steadily. The next day I took my front headlight off entirely and kept it at my desk with me, just to be sure the light hadn’t randomly turned itself on (I’ve had this happen before when lights get waterlogged). It stayed stubbornly off throughout the day.

This week I asked a coworker who smokes if she could just keep an eye on my bike when she goes outside. She said she already did. Then she added that she’d seen the light on at least once before, and had turned it off. She (backed up by a chorus of indignant other coworkers) soundly reviled the jerk that messed with my lights, and promised to continue checking on it for me in the future.

Aside from the kind of creepy feeling that comes with knowing a stranger has messed with your stuff, the idea of my light being on all day is disturbing because that wears out the batteries faster. I don’t want to be on a dark road one night and have the light dim or go out because somebody messed with my lights and used up the batteries wastefully.

Having somebody play with the light three times in two weeks seems like a bit much, so today I put my bike in the empty cube across the way from me. Almost immediately my boss came and asked, “What’s your bike doing there?” I explained the situation, that my bike had been messed with, and that I wanted to keep a closer eye on it. She was sympathetic but told me to put the bike back in the stairway, and to email security about the issue. I have low expectations for the likely outcome of that email.

I guess my best bet for now will be to take the front headlight off every morning, although I usually forget it in the evening and have to make a separate trip back to my cubicle to retrieve it. Better that than lightlessness, I suppose. It’s just frustrating that, in a company comprising all supposedly reasonable, mature adults, some people still feel the urge to twiddle with other peoples’ property.

* Another piece of evidence that made me think I hadn’t left it on is that my light has four options, which you cycle through in this order: Steadily on, flashing plus steadily on, just flashing, or off. In the mornings I only ever use just flashing, since as the sun rises I have no trouble seeing the road. Turning the light off, then, means I just press the button once and it goes from all flashing to off. I’d have to press the button twice to get to steadily on.

UPDATE [18 Jan 08]: I have enlisted several coworkers who are smokers to help me out. They go outside five to 10 times every day, passing my bike each time. I asked if they could just check my bike as they went by and let me know if any of the lights were on. They readily agreed. This will not solve the twiddling-with problem, but hopefully I will at least waste fewer batteries this way.

KF quality

8 thoughts on “Not So Sure Now

  1. I doubt anyone seriously assumes that everyone who works at any given company is a reasonable, mature adult. My friend at work has had his lunch taken by someone else at least twice. We know its not an accident because they didn’t take the bag by mistake. They took part of it. I could see grabbing the wrong bag (he just uses a plastic grocery bag) but accidentally grabbing the blueberry yogurt?

  2. If you want, I’ll send Darren there for the day to beat the crap out of somebody. (Okay it’s Darren, maybe he’ll watch, then I’ll come out with Ian and we can beat the crap out of somebody)

  3. the thing about stolen lunches is theres a motive. “i am hungry for string cheese and yogurt. oh look here it is.”

    what does someone gain from turning on your bike light?

  4. This experience is evidence of a disturbing facet of human nature that your dear parents tried to shield you from for all of your tender growing up years. Now the hideous truth is out: twiddlers lurk everywhere!

    Given your close relationship to a number of creative EEs, I would think that there might be a way to rig up a device that will zap the toucher enough to startle but not enough to harm him (or her). That twiddler would be hard pressed to complain, seeing as how only someone messing with your stuff would discover the unpleasant consequence. 🙂

    The legality of this may be questionable, however.

  5. While the legality of that plan may be questionable, I think we can all agree that its awesomeness is not. Now to find some big capacitors.

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