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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Collegiate Obituary

"It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of..." So begins a half dozen or so e-mails each year from the University Communications Office. It is always very appropriate, but sad. It is the proper way to announce to the University community the deaths of retired professors, administrators, and benefactors, though most of the readers never knew the deceased.

So how do I appropriately announce the loss of my trusty Schwinn Collegiate 5-speed bicycle? Certainly not with the same gravity. But it is gone. It must be known beyond a brief, almost insultungly sparse mention in the campus paper's crime briefs. So here goes: "It kinda sucks, but someone stole the Dean of Students' trusty bicycle out of his campus driveway on September 18, 2009. The green 5-speed Schwinn Collegiate was used to propel the Dean up the hill in the mornings and coast him home at night. It took him to and fro without adding more golf carts to the campus environment. It was old-school, functional, not too flashy, but it was a good ride."

I was not actually as bummed as I thought I would be. I had seen this coming for awhile. It is about the seventh bike of mine (or members of my family) that has been stolen while living on campus. You are never really prepared though. And this one was different. I had the same model as a kid in Milwaukee, receiving it as a Christmas gift circa 1972. Little did I know then, that the "Collegiate" moniker would be foreshadowing my career, and version two of the same model nearly 30 years later.

In truth thought the name to be rather docile. It was no Stingray. But it was my bike. "Collegiate." Though the "Collegiate" went with me to college at UW Madison, it was gone by the following summer. I actually forgot to bring it home. Upon trying to find it on a return trip, I hit nothing but brick walls in the bureaucracy that was the University of Wisconsin's abandoned-bike-removal-and-abyss department. It would never be recovered.

Imagine my glee in seeing a green 5 speed Schwinn Collegiate posted for sale on the in-house TigerTalk list serve on campus. Trinity secretary Linda Hyatt was offering her father's bike for sale. It had my name all over it: History, Collegiate-ism, familiarity, and the intersection of past and present. I believe it was posted for $100 and I negotiated her down to... $100. I didn't care. I was getting a Collegiate again. I got something back that mattered to me. And the name? Now it made sense.

After taking it apart, cleaning it up, and then having the bicycle repair shop help me get it back together (so I'm not mechanical), I was ready to roll out the new ride. It had a new bell, a new horn, and shiny silver fenders. Sure, friends and students would yell at me, half-kidding, asking where the flag was, or why it didn't have the playing card attached to the spokes by a clothes pin to simulate a revving engine. I didn't care. It was my bike.

So last month someone walked up my driveway, cut the lock with a bolt-cutter, and took it all away. My daughter, Joelle and my wife, Donna were there when I saw it was gone. I reported it to Security and Sergeant Morales seemed devastated. My friend Rick... Wanda and the staff in Residential Life.. and my VP, Felicia Lee; They all had the same reaction as my wife, daughter, and Officer Morales. They were hurt. "You loved that bike!"

Maybe that's why I didn't get too down. It is, after all, just a bike. The wheels weren't riding true anymore, to be honest. It was needing some new lights and a new horn. It was time for something new. Having people worry about me because of my stolen bike seemed almost silly, really, but it made me feel better. "It's okay," I would tell them. "It's just a bike." They tried to believe me.

One day, God-willing, I will have long since retired from Trinity, and the University Communications Office will have to roll out yet another obituary. Like my bike's write-up here, I hope the story about me reflects some history (I have been here 20 years and counting...) and something not too mundane. I hope it begins with something different than "It is with great sadness..." Maybe that is self-centered. Just for kicks, though, I hope it starts something like this: "It was a good ride..."

6 comments:

Sharon said...

David, Nice post. I will be sure to put this one in our office's ever expanding folder titled "David Tuttle: Dean of Students" so that the next head of University Communications will find it when the time is right. Sharon Jones Schweitzer

The MacGregors said...

Aw Dave. Having someone steal your bike is awful. Someone stole one of Rob's over 5 years ago and every time he sees one like it he still wonders, "Is that my bike?"

Bob said...

Stolen bikes and San Antonio are unfortunately synonymous. I can't remember how many I had stolen (despite being locked up) over the years when I lived there. Condolences.

Manny Gonzalez said...

Hey DT,
Though I always enjoy the witty banter and subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) sarcasm in your posts, this one in particular was really moving. While the next set of wheels will take you from point A to point B, I know it's hard to replace something that took you back to a place of nostalgia like the Collegiate did. I find myself thinking the same way about things that take me back to times at TU. Good luck finding an alternative, being that I know you're not looking for a replacement.
-Manny G.

willthornton said...

QQ

David Tuttle said...

Don't cry for me Manny. Just today I stole my wife's bike, so all is right. I'm sarcastic? Hey, maybe you can tell me what the QQ's from Will Thornton mean...