Friday, October 22, 2021

Column: My moped was stolen, this is my story

October 8, 2021
<p>Illustration of Zippy the moped by Daena Faustino.</p>

Illustration of Zippy the moped by Daena Faustino.

There’s not many times in my life that I can say I feel like Ben Affleck — but the last three weeks of my life felt ripped off the script of “Gone Girl”.

There I was on Sept. 16, blissfully unaware of what was to come next. I stepped out of the Communication Arts and Sciences Building to find Zippy, my moped of three years, gone.

At first, I refused to believe it.

They say denial is the first stage of grief, and I certainly fit that mold. I told myself there was no way Zippy could’ve been stolen.

How could a thief possibly break through the $12 bike lock I bought at Walmart?

I walked in circles for about an hour as part of a solo search party. I checked every parking lot in the area. “I must have parked somewhere else like an idiot,” I kept telling myself. It was in vain.

After giving up and filing a police report, I solemnly meandered home on two feet — a fitting yet humiliating reminder of what I had lost.

On that walk home, I became more and more depressed. Zippy was a dear friend to me. 

Sure, he was merely a piece of machinery I bought off a sketchy dude on Facebook Marketplace – but one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. His upbringing in a rickety, tarp-covered tent in a Kalamazoo backyard formed him into the enduring scooter he became.

Zippy was there for everything. The late nights driving back from a friend’s dorm. The drives back from HopCat, covered in fry seasoning. Late nights listening to A$AP Rocky while driving, making me feel like I was in an amateur cut of “Baby Driver.”

To be honest, he was mostly just there for late nights in general.

He was also a hit with friends. I soon learned after buying Zippy that every college student’s reaction to seeing a moped is “Can I drive it?” — and I always, possibly irresponsibly, obliged. 

Not to mention he could fit three fully grown men, perfect for a ride back from a football or basketball game. That being said, I wouldn’t try this method out on your moped at home.

Don’t get me wrong, Zippy had his faults. 

Ironically, some of the most memorable moments with my scooter involved unsuccessfully getting it to start, and subsequently being late for an important class, meeting or shift. I always loved the gamble of whether or not my only form of transportation would actually work. It kept me on and off my toes, and I can appreciate that. 

He was loud, too. The previous owner had decided to completely remove the muffler for unknown reasons -- possibly to annoy his neighbors. I was lucky enough to continue the tradition.

I always wondered how my friends knew when to come down and open the door for me at their dorms without me notifying them. It was revealed to me later on that they could hear Zippy coming down the street from, quite literally, a half-mile away.

Don’t get me started on the accidents. Like many college students, I like to live life on the edge. As such, I refused to wear a helmet. In retrospect, this might’ve been a bigger gamble than if the Zippy decided to start.

I vividly remember one scene in particular. I was heading down Grand River Avenue for a shift at HopCat, when suddenly my tire decided to go completely sideways — probably on account of it being completely bare. 

In one of the most athletic moves I’ve performed in my entire life, I catapulted myself off the scooter, rolled onto the sidewalk and subsequently completely tore the skin off my entire right forearm. Zippy, meanwhile, almost careened into the front doors of the MSU Broad Art Lab.

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I could always count on Zippy to give me a good adrenaline rush.

And no, I did not replace that tire. Like I said, I live my life on the edge.

As all these fond memories floated through my mind, I held my heart more and more for the loss of my dear friend.

The next three weeks were spent in two modes: Cursing under my breath as I walked to class, or analyzing every moped I walked past in a vain attempt to locate Zippy. I occasionally did these two at the same time.

On Oct. 5, though, that second mode came to serve me well.

I had recently been assigned to cover south Lansing for a journalism class. I set out on that faithful Wednesday in hopes of doing some textbook journalistic work — interviewing, uncovering, etcetera.

I was cruising through a south Lansing neighborhood, specifically searching for anybody that had a mayoral candidate sign on their front lawn. I came across a house that was seemingly in support of Andy Schor, and made my move.

I stopped in my tracks immediately. There he was.

Zippy was sitting on this person’s front lawn. Out and the open, trashy as ever. I could see the peeling brewery stickers and broken side mirror from the road.

Disbelief is a pretty light adjective for what I felt at that moment. Shock doesn’t cut it, either. Stupefied is pretty close, but not quite. I think you know what I’m getting at.

The Lansing Police were soon on the scene. I was told Zippy had been involved in an underground moped trafficking ring. Apparently, mopeds were stolen on a regular basis in East Lansing — all to be resold on the underground market. Zippy had come from the underground market (also known as Facebook), so it’s no wonder he made it out alive.

Under the seat, I found a backpack full of the same tools that had (probably) been used to steal the scooter in the first place. I figuratively shook my fist at the audacity of the thieves. It was like a murderer leaving the weapon at the scene, taunting the authorities.

Yet, here I am — reunited with my moped. The engine doesn’t start and the entire ignition has been ripped out, but what’s the difference?

It turns out a lot, as Zippy is probably useless now. He will most likely be heading to the scrapyard in the near future.

This column was originally begun as an obituary for Zippy. A swan song of sorts; I still consider it one, just a bit premature. The memories we shared were priceless, but not as priceless as the cold, hard cash I’ll get for selling him for scrap.

As one chapter closes, another one opens. I guess it's time to start looking for Zippy 2.0.

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