When Dan McLaughlin rode his bike into work on Wednesday, he never thought it would be stolen before he could get back home.
And he never thought a total stranger would run to his rescue, retrieving the bike almost before he knew it was gone.
According to Dan, he tries to ride his bike into work at least once a week. But the two-hour, 25-mile ride each way to his job at Good Samaritan Hospital is too much to sandwich around a full day at the office, so he usually takes the Commuter Express bus back to his home in Palos Verdes.
Wednesday night, he placed his $2500 Trek Madone in the rack at the front of the bus, and settled in to check his email in the back of the bus.
He barely noticed when the bus pulled over at a Downtown bus stop — it was somewhere on Flower, might have been at Washington Blvd, maybe Pico or Venice. What got his attention was the angry honking of the driver; soon everyone was standing, and someone yelled out “Your bike!”
He looked up to see his handlebars moving out of view through the windshield; by the time he got to the front of the bus, the bike was gone. He could see a young man struggling to hop on and ride it off, possibly because of the clip-in pedals.
As he stepped off the bus, though, he saw someone holding his bike. In the excitement, he ran towards him, only to realize that the man was walking back with it.
The other passengers were more than happy to fill him in.
When the bus stopped, the young man got off and immediately started to remove Dan’s bike from the rack. The driver, Pat Kesvy, started honking to stop him, but the thief kept going.
That’s when Chris Bolivar flew off the bus in pursuit of the thief. Bolivar, on his way home from his job with the Customer Service Department at DWP, quickly caught up to the struggling thief, scaring him into tossing the bike aside as he ran off down the street.
Bolivar picked it up and walked back, still shaking from the adrenalin rush.
Dan thanked his rescuer, and placed the bike back onto the rack. As they entered the bus, the passengers broke out in a spontaneous round of applause, applauding again when Bolivar got off at his stop.
And despite all odds, Dan McLaughlin made it home with his bike; as he puts it, it would have broken a roadie’s heart to lose a bike like that.
Meanwhile, one of the other passengers sent out an email telling the story, describing Bolivar as a gentleman who typically gives up his seat when the bus is crowded.
I’m told that email made it’s way to Chris Bolivar’s boss at DWP. And when he arrived at work Thursday morning, his co-workers stood up and applauded, as well.
McLaughlin is planning to take him to lunch next week to show his gratitude.
Maybe we should all thank him, in whatever way we can. After all, it could have been your bike. Or mine. And a total stranger cared enough to keep it safe.
It’s not every day you find a real hero riding the bus.
And am I the only one who sees a wonderful symmetry in a good Samaritan being honored by Good Samaritan?