I rode up onto the sidewalk like I always do, made the left down the narrow little path next to the parking garage, and dismounted at the top of the four concrete steps which lead to the big locked gate. There is a hedge opposite the wall of the parking garage, and the space along the path is so slight that if they weren’t well trimmed, the branches would touch the opposing wall. It’s a busy little passageway; countless tenants come and go through this side entrance over the course of a day.
The jersey pockets of my bicycle outfit are always stuffed the same way. Gate and house key on the left, spare tube in the middle, and CO2/cash/credit card on the right. When I’m cutting out before sunrise I’ll stick my sunglasses in the left pocket, on top of the keys. It’s my “sunglass” pocket, or, when I’m coming home in the late afternoon and wearing my sunglasses, it’s the pocket in which I’ll put the Rx clear-lens biking glasses that I’d worn on the pre-dawn commute. In any event, the glasses are always on top of the gate and house key.
On Thursday afternoon I got back to the complex, dismounted, and took off my gloves before fishing out the glasses from the left pocket in order to reach the gate and house key. I walked the bike down the steps, let myself in, and walked up the staircase to our apartment. Then the evening quickly took over. There was so much to do before our big trip to Palm Springs on Friday. There were bags to be packed, bike to be cleaned, dinner to be eaten, beer to be drunk and, of course, book to be faced.
One of the last things to be packed was my actual riding gear, and nothing is double and triple-checked more often than my eyewear. This is because my vision is so terrible that without my prescription biker glasses it’s simply not possible to ride. Although I knew from our riding schedule that we wouldn’t be riding before sunup or after sundown, and I therefore wouldn’t need them, I noticed that my clear Rx glasses were missing.
“Honey,” I said, “have you seen my clear glasses?”
“No. Why? When’s the last time you wore them?”
“Today. I thought I came home with them today, actually.” A short search ensued but they didn’t turn up. “They’ll show up later,” I thought.
Rather, I hoped like hell they’d show up, because they were prescription SPY Quanta performance glasses, and they meant the difference between pre-dawn riding and not. They would also be expensive to replace.
The weekend flew by, and on Sunday night, as I unpacked my bags, I realized that the glasses had never turned up. This wasn’t surprising, since I hadn’t looked for them and since we’d been out of town. “Honey,” I asked again. “Have you seen my clear Rx riding glasses?”
She rolled her eyes. “In Palm Springs? No.”
On Monday morning I got ready to ride and faced the nasty truth. I’d lost the glasses and couldn’t remember where, and they weren’t coming back. Our apartment is small and we don’t have much in it, and the glasses would have surfaced if only because SPY provides a gray cloth carrying case with a bright orange drawstring for all its eyewear. It’s the kind of thing that you just can’t miss, bright orange strings against a slightly metallic gray bag.
I clomped down the concrete staircase and went out the gate. As I mounted the top concrete step on the walkway, I glanced to my right. There on the hedge was a gray cloth bag, hanging from a branch by its bright orange drawstring. Then it all came back to me. I’d taken out the glasses out of the back pocket in order to get the gate key, and must have dropped the glasses. They’d been there for almost four days.
Someone had picked up the bag, looked inside, realized that the glasses were prescription and fancy and important, and had thoughtfully hung them from the hedge. Over the four days countless people had stopped, opened the little bag to see what was inside, realized that they were lost glasses, and left them there. Countless little acts of observation, investigation, conclusion and … doing the nicest thing.
I smiled a big smile and tucked the glasses into my jersey pocket, the left one of course. Then I pedaled on to work, feeling like the strangers of the world were, somehow, looking out for me, and reminding me that when it came my turn, to be sure and look out for them, too.