Since my Nazi story went over so well I'm back again with another story that slipped through getting written down until now. Blame my weird October depression. And enjoy the story.
Oh, Swedes. I think I have you and your culture down pat, but the truth is in some ways I am still one hundred percent, genuinely, unabashedly, almost clownishly American. Like that time I thought whipped cream was something you bought from the frozen food section and was wow'd when the cream I was whipping actually turned into whipped cream. Or the whole finding out that zero coffee shops have raspberry mochas (don't even think about knocking this, go try it you judgmental jerks) by asking for one and getting disgusted looks. I thought I knew how to tiptoe around politically correct, uptight, mile-high-personal-walls.
Then my boss's bike gets stolen and I make a fool of myself.
This is my boss. He's a politican. He's passionate about being Green and naturally had a great vintage bike that I sort of took over for most of this year and rode around wherever. I was just as outraged as he was when one day it just...wasn't there. Maybe naively, I kept it outside, a whopping six feet from the front door, and when it was gone I kind of mentally freaked out that someone would just walk up to our yard and take it.
My boss was really upset. This was not the first bike he's had stolen, and he loves to bicycle so he set about going to all the town's bike shops, filing a police report, et cetera. Nothing. We gave up hope and he bought a "new" (vintage) bike, but I was still bummed because nothing could replace Old Red.
Then one rainy morning I was on my way home from dropping the children off at dagis, and what do you think I saw? IN A NEIGHBOR'S YARD???? Propped up almost gallantly, looking fresh and glistening thanks to the rain bath...it was the bicycle. I remember feeling a rush of emotion: happiness that I found the bike, then anger at the people who took it, and indignation that they would so blatantly put it on display in their yard. IT WASN'T EVEN LOCKED. What.
So, I did what any amazing, awesome, loyal bike enthusiast and owner would do. I opened the gate, took the bike, and rode it home. Then, I lugged it into the garage and called my boss at work. Since he's a part of the EU Parliament, he works in Brussels. AKA he was a world away. I was so excited to share the good news. He was passionate about this bike too!! He would be so happy!!
Me: Guess what IIIIIIIIIIIII foooooooundddddddd?!?!
Him: (very annoyed) ....what? What are you---
Me: IT'S THE BIKE! (I can almost hear him thanking me profusely!!!)
Him: ....The what?
Me: THE STOLEN BIKE! I FOUND IT!!!
Him: You...what? Are you sure? Where is it? (now he perked up, definitely interested)
Me: It's in the garage! (My chest was puffing outward now out of sheer pride.)
Him: It's where?!?!?!?!
Me: (now confused, slightly deflated) In...our...garage?
Him: YOU TOOK IT?
Him: Oh god I have to call the police now. Just...lock the garage and don't take the bike out.
So I got off the phone and felt another surge of emotions. Why had I just been shamed? What did I do? Was it actually the right bike? I opened the garage just to double check, thinking I must be crazy. My confusion turned into anger. How dare he! I WAS BASICALLY BATMAN. I BROUGHT JUSTICE TO THIS FAMILY. I DESERVE RESPECT. GOTHAM ISN'T SAFE WITHOUT ME. (This was also the day I learned I'd make a bad superhero.)
As it turns out, in Sweden, you don't just vigilante a stolen bike back. You have to call the police and tell them where the bike is, so that they can go confirm it's yours via serial number or whatever. This is stupid and wasteful, am I right?!?! If some asshat has MY bicycle parked on his back lawn like some war trophy I'm getting the damn thing back MYSELF. But unfortunately in Sweden, that meant that I was now a bike thief.
My boss had to call the police on me. I was entirely stupefied. And enraged. And decided right there I would fight this one to the death and tell everyone how idiotic they were being. This was the bike I have had adventures on for almost a year. This bike and I have a relationship. What I did was right. As it turns out my boss also informed the police that I was American and we have 'different' ideas of justice. But just because fuck my life, the police were coming to the house that night to check the bike and talk to me.
This had to be the stupidest day ever. That's right folks, not only was I called a Nazi by a Christian Swede, but I also had to talk to the police because I stole my own bike. The police came (two policewomen actually) and they were really nice and slightly amused. They checked the serial number, they took my passpord ID number, laughed a little, and left. Of course all the neighbors were drawn to the situation of a police car parked outside the house and the American (collective neighborhood groan) talking to two cops about who knows what.
So that's my story of how I was illegal in Sweden.
How American Justice was so wrong and so right.
Because I'm the Hero Linköping deserves, but not the one it needs right now.
So they'll hunt me.
Because I can take it.
Because I'm not their Hero.
I'm a silent guardian.
A watchful protector
a dark knight