The Accidental Motorcycle Thief

The other day, I wanted to go for a quick lunch at the canteen (cafeteria), so I asked one of the students interning for the Japanese course if I could borrow her scooter. She gave me the key and told me where it was parked, along with a description. She said the license plate number was 85, and that it was a 100cc Honda Wave, with a manual transmission, in gray.

I found the 100cc manual Honda Wave almost immediately, but noticed that the license plate was actually 58 and that it was blue with gray accents. I chalked it up to the student remembering it wrong, or me hearing it wrong, and decided to test it by trying to start it up: No problem. I rode off in the direction of lunch, happily upshifting with my foot in this age of boring automatic plastic bi-wheeled conveyances.

When I got back on the scooter after lunch, the key was harder to turn. I had to work at it a bit. Then, when I got back to my building, I couldn’t turn the key to the far left to lock the steering column. I tried for a few minutes doing the jiggle-turn maneuver, but finally just gave up. When I went back to my office, I told the intern that I couldn’t lock her bike and asked if she’d had problems with her key, but she had no idea what I was talking about. A warning sign flashed briefly in my head.

“You said your plate number was 5-8, right?” I asked.

“No, I said 8-5,” she said.

Uh-oh.

I  looked down at where I’d parked the bike and saw a girl wiping tears from her eyes, our building’s custodian trying to console her, and a security guard talking into a walkie talkie.

I went down and apologized, and in the end, everyone except the victim had a good laugh about it (she was still in shock at having her scooter stolen). I felt bad for making her feel bad, but also because the first time I stole a bike, [A.] it was only 100cc, [B.] it required no skill because of the worn lock, and [C.] it provided zero exhilaration because IT WAS A TOTAL ACCIDENT.

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