The police departments of many cities hold annual auctions to get rid of seized and unclaimed property. Some of the stuff is repossessed, some comes from estates, some is stolen and discarded, or just found on the streets in public places. There is a wide assortment of items, everything from entire houses to knick-knacks for the mantle. Art work is in good supply. There is always plenty of electronic equipment and cameras, and lots of cars.
And usually a fair number of bicycles.
So it was that a young boy of 11 found himself at the police auction one day. He waited patiently for the paintings, cameras and home furnishings to be sold off. Eventually it was time for the bicycles.
The first bike to be auctioned was a beat-up old cruiser with more than a few dings and two well worn tires. It had been abandoned at a popular dumpsite near the river. The young boy immediately came to life and registered his first bid, of $5. The bidding continued, but the boy did not bid again, and the bike was sold for $16.
Several more bikes were wheeled onto the block, each one getting a little newer and nicer than the one before. The boy’s bidding pattern was repeated. With each bike, he registered a bid of $5, but as each bike’s price climbed, the boy stopped bidding.
Finally, the last bike to be auctioned was wheeled to the stage. It was a shiny, almost new ten-speed in immaculate condition, with a titanium frame and racing saddle. It had been taken from a drug dealer’s house.
The boy looked on dejectedly, knowing this bike would also be well out of his price range.
There was an almost imperceptible pause and a subtle murmur in the audience, as the auctioneer cleared his throat and opened the bidding on the last bike. By this time the boy was slumped in his chair, head down, and his perfunctory $5 bid was barely audible.
The auctioneer repeated his call for additional bids, yet none were forthcoming. Surely someone would give more than five dollars for a bike that was worth a hundred times that amount. The boy pulled his head up and looked around the audience. Everyone in the room looked back and smiled, but nobody bid. Going once…going twice…SOLD to the young man in the back for $5!
And so it was that an eleven year-old boy with only $5 to his name took home the best bike in the house, due to the collective kindness of a room full of complete strangers.