Guest Columnist: Schwinn Wheeler

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Schwinn is one of the many drifters at the College. Photo by Kaleb Dill.
Schwinn is one of the many drifters at the College. (Photo by Kaleb Dill)

My name is Schwinn. I am a bike, and I am a drifter. I don’t know who my “owner” is and I don’t know where I will go next.

I was purchased four years ago by a middle-aged couple in West Ashley, where I sat in the garage for most of my life. Occasionally I saw the sun on a beautiful day, but only on the most ideal of days. I lived a lonely, dark and deprived life in a garage.

Two years ago I was sold to a student at the College and my life has been drastically different since. Is it better? Do I like it more? Not necessarily. But is it more interesting? Absolutely.

In the last two years, I’ve been used much more than I was in the past. To give you an idea of how different my life is, I’ll just give you a quick synopsis.

I don’t really live anywhere, I just rest in various places. One day I’ll rest in the St. Philip Street garage. The next day, I’ll be up by McAllister. Occasionally I’ll be up at a house on Smith Street. It really just depends on the day.

If you recall, I said I don’t really know who my owner is. That’s because I don’t know if I have just one owner. Many different people have used me and for different reasons. I have a different perspective of Charleston than the rest of you.

I do not have much of a routine but I am used to making my trip down to Harbor Walk every school day. However, going back to the whole owner thing, it’s not always the same person who takes me on my leisurely stroll to the harbor. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, it’s a guy who takes me. But on Tuesdays and Thursdays, it’s a girl. As a result, I’ve missed out on bonding with my owner because I quite simply don’t have one.

Other than my regular trip to Harbor Walk, I live a drifter’s life; I go with the flow and don’t have a consistent schedule.

Sometimes, I get stranded in the rain. Sometimes I sit under a starry sky at night and rest in peace. Occasionally I am not locked to the rack, and that brings on a whole new set of circumstances. This happened to me last week.

I was sitting at a rack near Liberty when some guy pulled me off and took me around Charleston. We rode around the city, nowhere in particular, and finally stopped at the Battery. We sat there for a while, he walked away and talked with some friends and then he got in a car and left. And there I was, leaning against the railing as the sun was setting. I had a great view of the sky, but once the sun set, I realized I was stranded and alone.

I did not last very long at the Battery because yet another stranger picked me up and rode me to the market, where I was left again. What most people do not think about in regards to bikes like me is that we are bystanders to everything that happens outside. When I was left at the market that evening, I saw what was possibly one of the worst crimes in Charleston. Every city has its moments but this one was going to be one for the ages.

It was approximately 2 a.m. on a poorly lit street when a man walked past me and over to one of the horse barns. He fiddled with the lock a little, banged it up against the door and broke it open. He opened the creaky barn door slowly so as to not make a scene or raise suspicion for anyone who could have been awake. He walked into the barn and, not even three minutes later, emerged from the barn riding one of the horses. He gave the horse a firm smack on the back and off they ran down Market Street. To my knowledge, they were never seen again.

If only bikes could talk, huh? I would have busted that guy.

I got drenched in the rain that night but I wasn’t at the market for long. The next day one of my regular riders was running by the market and decided to pick me up. We rode back to campus and she locked me up near Maybank. I don’t know how she knew I was at the market but I was back on campus before I knew it. In hindsight, I honestly kind of liked the change of pace when I was stranded.

And so it goes. My story has no end. Today will be different than yesterday, and next week I could end up back at the Battery or riding over the Ravenel Bridge with someone I’ve never been with before. You have probably walked by me on campus before and never known. But that’s okay, I am just a bike after all. I live a drifter’s life.

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