An act of pointless heroism

@boiboing (12561)
Northampton, England
May 18, 2017 8:05am CST
I wrote earlier about my colleague who lost some money at an airport and was lucky enough to find on her return to the terminal that it had been handed in. It reminded me of possibly one of the stupidest bits of pointless heroism that I have engaged in. I was a research student in Manchester and, as students did back then and quite possibly still do, I was very much dependent on my bicycled for getting around. One evening I was leaving the department and I saw three teenagers messing about with somebody's bike which was locked to the railings. It was one of those bikes with a quick release wheel and the owner had foolishly not locked the removable wheel to the railings. The boys saw me and took off down the road. I popped back inside to tell the bemused security guy (not a very good one, apparently) what I was about to do, and then took off after them. I pursued them for about 15 minutes, asking passers-by "Did you see three lads with a bicycle wheel" until I tracked them down - without the wheel. It's fair to point out that the late 1980s were perhaps times when kids were slightly more respectful of slightly older people than they are now but it was still a rather rough part of the city. I stomped up to the tallest of the three boys and demanded to know where the wheel was. He denied all knowledge. I told him I knew they had taken it and demanded his name - which oddly I remember to this day. He was called Jason Singh. I told him that he might hate students but that they didn't have it easy and that they'd just taken a wheel that meant somebody would lose their transport and that he and his friends might get just pennies for it second hand. I added that if he brought the wheel back to the security guard, we'd say no more about it and if he didn't I'd track down his school and report the boys for the theft. Quite what three young and rather tough teenagers in a down-at-heel part of Manchester thought of getting a dressing down from a 24 year old 'southern' (i.e. in their eyes posh) white girl I'll never know. Today they'd probably have just pulled a knife and I'd have been a statistic. But sure enough, the next day the wheel was in the security guy's office, as young Jason had promised. Sad thing was that the wheel's owner never came back to collect it. See what I mean about pointless heroism. The sad thing is that I'd probably do it again today if I saw something happening.
17 people like this
13 responses
@minx267 (9897)
• Hartford, Connecticut
18 May
Wow. That sucks. The pointless part. But you may have made those kids start think about how their actions effect someone else's life... MAYBE.
4 people like this
@boiboing (12561)
• Northampton, England
18 May
I think they thought it was funny until somebody challenged them on it. I don't think they were on a path to becoming hardened criminals.
1 person likes this
@minx267 (9897)
• Hartford, Connecticut
18 May
@boiboing hopefully not. So you may have helped them get back on course. Maybe not so pointless after all.
@JudyEv (83769)
• Bunbury, Australia
18 May
What a shame the wheel was never collected. But you can sleep at night knowing you did the right thing - and that's important.
4 people like this
@boiboing (12561)
• Northampton, England
18 May
I haven't thought about this in years. I'm amazed I remember the guy's name.
1 person likes this
@JudyEv (83769)
• Bunbury, Australia
20 May
@boiboing Some things (usually useless) seem to stay with you forever.
@waflay (2655)
• Nairobi, Kenya
18 May
At least you did something to help the owner of the bicycle only that it seems like he replaced the wheel by other means.
3 people like this
@shebish (818)
• Egypt
18 May
At least you tried. My pointless act of Heroism happened In a London Hostel, in the middle of the night I was woken by a women`s screams,,leaving my strapping sons in the room I rushed out with the only thing at hand a can of deodorant ,and came face to face with a man holding a women down, I yelled stop or I will spray, the man ran off,and security then arrived, Half an hour later it all started again this time the woman was attacking the man, turned out they were both drunk and it was the woman all along that was the aggressor, would I do it again, probably but I would make sure I was not judgemental and immediately blaming the man and I would not say something so stupid like stop or I will spray.
2 people like this
@Fleura (5081)
• United Kingdom
18 May
Well it wasn't that stupid if it worked - well done!
1 person likes this
@shebish (818)
• Egypt
18 May
@Fleura It felt stupid afterwards
1 person likes this
@boiboing (12561)
• Northampton, England
18 May
@shebish I can understand that. Though I might have crept out early and skipped breakfast just in case I ran into them.
2 people like this
@responsiveme (11710)
• India
18 May
It was not pointless ..I think that the boys gave the wheel back shows that you made some impact in their lives.
2 people like this
@boiboing (12561)
• Northampton, England
18 May
That's a nice thought.
1 person likes this
@teamfreak16 (26508)
• Manitou Springs, Colorado
18 May
As a victim of bike theft, thank you.
1 person likes this
@boiboing (12561)
• Northampton, England
18 May
I hope you would have come back for your wheel.
2 people like this
@teamfreak16 (26508)
• Manitou Springs, Colorado
18 May
@boiboing - I once had everything but the frame and front wheel stolen.
1 person likes this
@boiboing (12561)
• Northampton, England
18 May
@teamfreak16 The cruelest is when they just take the saddle and you still need to ride home.
1 person likes this
@LadyDuck (94798)
• Switzerland
18 May
In my opinion you did the right thing. You knew that you would have been lost without your bicycle and thought it would have been the same for the not so smart guy who attached his own to the railings. I would not do this in our days, may be not even here in Switzerland.
1 person likes this
@just4him (69950)
• Green Bay, Wisconsin
18 May
You did the right thing. It's too bad the owner of the bike never found out his wheel was returned. I'm sure those three boys learned a lesson from you getting in their face, especially as they returned the wheel.
1 person likes this
@boiboing (12561)
• Northampton, England
18 May
They probably laughed themselves all the way back to return the wheel.
1 person likes this
@just4him (69950)
• Green Bay, Wisconsin
18 May
@boiboing At least they returned it. That shows they had a lot of respect for you.
1 person likes this
@thelme55 (7828)
• Germany
18 May
You have done the right thing. It would be dangerous nowadays to be heroic.
1 person likes this
@boiboing (12561)
• Northampton, England
18 May
Sometimes you get so angry about something stupid that your feet are half way down the street before your brain catches up with them.
1 person likes this
@thelme55 (7828)
• Germany
19 May
@boiboing yes, you are right. Sometimes I am like that.
1 person likes this
@allen0187 (18165)
• Philippines
18 May
What you did wasn't pointless. It is called integrity - doing the right thing even if no one was watching.
1 person likes this
@boiboing (12561)
• Northampton, England
18 May
I have never told my husband this story because he would tell me it was an incredibly stupid thing to do.
1 person likes this
@allen0187 (18165)
• Philippines
20 May
@boiboing I don't think it was stupid.
@Corbin5 (58173)
• United States
18 May
Well, that heroism did give the young thieves a good lesson. They learned that there are honest folks out there who may take them to task if they do wrong.
1 person likes this
@boiboing (12561)
• Northampton, England
18 May
I hope they turned out OK.
1 person likes this
@Essjayd (981)
19 May
Well done for actually doing something. Not sure I would do anything these days there's been too many attacks here where knives or other weapons have been used when someone stands up to then.
@boiboing (12561)
• Northampton, England
19 May
No, I'd probably have more sense now.
1 person likes this
@celticeagle (104337)
• Boise, Idaho
18 May
I wonder if they ever thought anyone would be the wiser. Just something cute to do. They really needed a wake up call I think.