Professor Joe Goldblatt
On Sunday morning my wife sat next to me on the sofa and said “We have to talk. I have some sad news.” At our advanced age this usually means the recent death of a loved one. However, this time the message was one that was both surprising and gut wrenching.
“I walked CoCo this morning and your tricycle is missing.” These words caused me to immediately run to the nearest window and look at the bicycle rack in front of our home only to discover that my yellow tricycle and other bikes had been stolen over night. In the case of my bike, despite having been secured with a heavy chain and strong lock, all that was left was its black cover that was now spread upon the ground as though it was a shroud signifying a period of mourning.
Stumbling back to the sofa, I first telephoned Police Scotland to record my theft. I was impressed with how the dispatcher took detailed information, set a date and time for a Constable to contact me for more information and gave me a case number. She was also emphatetic and somewhat positive about the potential recovery of my tricycle. Since 2016, 25,000 bikes have been stolen in the city of Edinburgh and only one in ten of these crimes was solved. Therefore, I was surprised by the positivity of Police Scotland regarding my missing friend.
I then placed a photo of my tricycle on various social media platforms and within a few hours over 300 persons had written notes of support and offered to help me find my stolen tricycle. Throughout the day I found myself plunged into deep despair as I wondered what could motivate thieves to steal an old man’s only transport and had provided me with such joy and delighted thousands of others with many miles of happy smiles.
At 6pm on the same day I received a telephone call from a number I did not recognise. The caller was my former Queen Margaret University colleague, the distinghished podiatry lecturer, Evelyn Weir. She simply said “Guess what we found!” Then she explained that she too had posted my missing tricycle on a local social media platform and a tipster had contacted her saying he spotted my mean yellow machine in a local neighbourhood being “looked after” by some teenage lads.
Evelyn then explained that she and her husband David were driving into Edinburgh at once from Haddington to rescue my tricycle. I immediately thought of all the great detective programmes from Rebus to Columbo to Murder She Wrote, the classic Miss Marple and imagined that my two new community heroes were now joining their esteemed ranks with the William Tell Overture as their theme music.
Whilst making the forty mile round trip journey from Haddington Evelyn rang Police Scotland to let them know that she and David were on their way to try and recover my tricycle and sought their advice. Police Scotland simply told them to approach the culprits carefully and announce that they were there to take the trike back to its owner. They also explained that if there was any resistance or threats they should retreat immediately.
As my new heroes slowly cruised through one of Edinburgh’s poorest areas they soon discovered my unmistakeable tricycle resting upon a corner in front of a local shop with four teenage boys wearing black balaclava shirts with only their eyes visible. The boys were either sitting on the trike or standing nearby.
Evelyn told me that she squared her shoulders and put on her best “Glasgow Girl” attitude as she walked up to the group and told them “Right. I am taking this tricycle back to its owner now.” She was soon followed by her husband David who assertively collected the tricycle and placed it in their Land Rover.
The young men were stunned and rapidly said “We did not steal it!” Then they rapidly scattered. David and Evelyn asked no further questions and drove away.
When the buzzer for our flat rang I once again looked out the front window and this time saw my two smiling friends with my recovered prize posession. The joy on their faces made me think of Christmas morning many years ago when my father surprised me with my first shiny red new bicycle with training wheels and colourful streamers upon the silver handlebars.
After thanking them profusely and shedding a few tears of gratitude I asked my super heroes what motivated them to drive all the way from Haddington to help me? Evelyn looked me straight in the eye and simply said “Justice.”
The Harvard University philosopher Professor Cornell West once said that “Justice is what love looks like in public.” Through the efforts of hundreds of my fellow citizens and the heroism of Evelyn and David, I now intimately know what love looks like in public.
I asked Evelyn about the boys who stole my bike and if there was any chance I could meet with them and let them know that I forgive them for their dastardly deed and also to offer help to them in any way in the future to improve their future life choices and opportunities. Regrettably, she said that it would be very difficult to locate them and Police Scotland discouraged further contact.
However, whilst I have now long forgiven these slefish thieves, I shall never forget the heartache that was caused and also the happy heart that was restored by the selfless, generosity of hundreds of others and especially the heroic acts of my two Haddington Super Heroes.
Professor Joe Goldblatt is Emeritus Professor of Planned Events at Queen Margaret University. He may be found riding his bright yellow tricycle in Edinburgh’s Meadows. For more stories about his colourful life visit www.joegoldblatt.scot