Allan Steinmetz loves his wife, Sarina. But boy, did he screw up.
“HELP ME PLEASE,” Steinmetz’s impassioned plea begins on a flier tacked to a utility pole in Newton. In a burst of panicked capital letters, he explains exactly where he went wrong:
“I MADE A HUGE MISTAKE AND MISTAKENLY SOLD MY WIFE’S BIKE THAT HER DEAR FATHER GAVE HER 60 YEARS AGO. IT HAD GREAT SENTIMENTAL VALUE TO HER, AND I MISTAKENLY SOLD IT. SHE DESPERATELY WANTS IT BACK.”
If you bought a #vintage yellow #Motobecane #bicycle at a #garagesale in #Newton this past weekend off Centre St, the man who sold it to you wants desperately to speak with you because he messed up royally. @wbznewsradio pic.twitter.com/rCYqlf6Gb4— KarynRegalWBZ (@Karynregal) June 27, 2019
The bicycle in question is a vintage French Motobecane Grand Touring bike, canary yellow with straight handlebars — a flourish her father added “so she could stand tall and be proud,” Steinmetz said.
Sarina Steinmetz’s late father, a Holocaust survivor of the Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps, “only bought the best of everything,” Steinmetz said, and he gave Sarina the bicycle as a gift when she was 16. His wife had planned to pass down the bike to their granddaughter.
Now, Sarina, Steinmetz’s wife of 44 “generally happy” years, is distraught.
“I screwed up, you know, I really made a huge mistake and I’m paying the consequences,” Steinmetz told the Globe. “I’m doing whatever I can to help her feel better, and making her feel better means finding that bicycle.”
The saga began over the weekend. Steinmetz had been cleaning out his basement, where the beloved bike had been collecting dust for years. He moved the bike into the garage, along with some other items, hoping to host a garage sale in a few weeks. But his plans accelerated Sunday morning, when he noticed his next door neighbor on Centre Street hosting a yard sale. Steinmetz brought the bike and a few other things outside. He was quickly inundated with customers.
“I was inattentive and distracted and some guy came up to me and said, ‘How much for the bike?’ and so we bartered a little bit and he ended up buying it,” Steinmetz said.
Steinmetz admits he underestimated the bike’s sentimental value; Sarina Steinmetz hadn’t ridden it in more than 40 years, but that, he added, is “not an excuse.” To make matters worse, the day he sold it was the fourth anniversary of her father’s death at the age of 102.
“When I told her I sold the bike, she went deservedly — write that word down — deservedly upset on me, so now I’m trying to make amends,” he said. “She said, ‘You do whatever you have to do’ . . . That’s what I’m doing because I love her and I care for her and I was inconsiderate and stupid and I’ll say even idiotic for not taking her feelings into account.”
Steinmetz has posted his fliers on Centre Street and around Newton Centre. He’s contacted several local bike shops, including Landry’s Bicycles, Farina’s, and BikeWorks, asking their employees to stay on the lookout for his wife’s precious heirloom. Friends are scouring eBay, Craigslist, and neighborhood resale websites.
Steinmetz is willing to pay a generous reward — “whatever it takes” — for any leads that help him retrieve his wife’s bike.
“I’m in the doghouse — there’s no question about it,” Steinmetz said. “My wife is really, really hurting and understandably so.”
Former secretary of state and Massachusetts senator John Kerry chimed in on Twitter to try and help Steinmetz get the bike back.
“Massachusetts: Hope we can help this nice man from Newton! As a husband, and as a son who never forgot those sentimental sentimental objects from my pa, this strikes a chord - and knowing her father was a Holocaust survivor makes it all the more poignant,” Kerry tweeted.
Massachusetts: Hope we can help this nice man from Newton! As a husband, and as a son who never forgot those sentimental sentimental objects from my pa, this strikes a chord - and knowing her father was a Holocaust survivor makes it all the more poignant. https://t.co/KLDcUkdC0x— John Kerry (@JohnKerry) June 27, 2019
Did you buy the bike? Do you know who did? E-mail Steinmetz at firstname.lastname@example.org.Deanna Pan can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @DDpan.