Bicycle economy (fiction)
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Janie's friends live in a world of cash, mooching from friends, and sex, and drugs . A world full of fast food, littering, and bicycles. She had no job, no prospects, no food, no drugs, no boyfriend, no rent money, and no bicycle.
Jane stole a bicycle, rode it uptown, and whispered to a few people about her need for rent money-- "... Please? I'm desperate, maybe something for my bike?" A guy bought the bike for 3 bills. Aside from receiving stolen property, he got a really good deal. The bike had a carbon frame with custom Shimano parts all over. She walked home and paid the rent money.
Jane had no idea that particular customized bike would be the one that sent her to jail.
She started noticing where people parked nicer bikes, and checked to see how long a bike stayed put. There were predictable routines. Many of the more attractive bikes were locked. After paying the rent, she got a ride into town with Sue and used the money left over for some food, and some bolt cutters.
The next morning she walked back to town, got some fast food, and wandered around the bike racks. She littered her fast food breakfast trash there. Later in the day she walked back, with the bolt cutters in a large black trash bag. She picked up her garbage, and rode away on another bike.
Some bikes are worth $20 or $200, others $2000 or more. She bought a few copies of bicycling magazines. She started riding, and ditching, stolen $20 bikes, with balloon tires and coaster brakes, to pick up bikes $700, and up. She looked for GT, Velo, Santa Cruz, Thule, Shimano, Binachi, and Sun. She got to liking good frames, gears, wheels and brakes. She also noticed many expensive bikes could not be had with bolt cutters. The lock bars were hardened steel. So, she got a battery powered Dremel rotary cutter.
Sometimes she walked back to retrieve the cheap bikes, but they were often stolen. Sue's boyfriend showed her how to use a bic pen to pick some of the circular locks, or a bent paper clip to pick cylinder locks. She kept a couple of the bike locks and sold the rest. She started locking her favorite el-cheapo bike when she ditched it at the racks.
Jane's friend Sue started working stolen bicycles with Jane. They learned to camouflage a bike using water soluble spray paint, so the owner would not recognize it. They bought up-scale biking apparel-- spandex shorts, lycra tops, and shoes that clip on the pedals.
Jane got a nice-looking violin case to carry the bolt cutters and Dremel tool, and a basket for the back of the throw-away bike, to carry the violin case.
Jane and Sue got caught. The judge sentenced them both to 3 months and a $500 fine. The other girls in prison laughed at them while they played Monopoly. "You're here for stealin' bicycles?" Three weeks later she got out on probation with a warning to "not come back".
Jane hitched a ride to LA and landed on her feet there in a few days. She called me and said she made a list of five things she didn't have and wanted.
Janie was lucky. She apparently rolled 2D6, and got a 3 and a 5. With her knowledge of bikes she got the job, found herself, and later got a discount on a nice bike. She rides it to work. She's doing better, but there are still flaws in her gems.