Independence and self-determination have always been important to me. At age sixteen, I bought a scooter to be independent from my parents. At age eighteen, I bought a car because the scooter was too slow for me. The last few years, I’ve owned only a bike, and that is my first real declaration of independence.
Back to the beginning. When I turned 14 I started handing out advertising flyers, saved my pocket money, and scraped together two years' worth of birthday and Christmas money to get my scooter driver's license. Two years later I bought a red scooter. I’d never have to ride the regional train again, never have to depend on my parents again. For the first time in my life, I felt independent and grown up.
Scooter Instead of Train
I could sleep longer on school days and commute between my parents’ house and friends’ on weekends without looking at a train schedule. It was a pleasant feeling. It was as if, with my hand on the throttle of my scooter, I was also in control of my life. I felt a tingle in my stomach when I accelerated. I felt alive. In the summer, I enjoyed the warm breeze on my face, and in the winter, I tried to ignore the icy wind. Friends complimented me on my scooter and my parents praised me for being independent.
Despite all the positive effects, I was not satisfied. With my scooter, I was by far the slowest on the road. It was limited to 45 kilometers an hour, and cars passed me dangerously close. After two years, it was clear to me: I need a car, too. And for that I need money, again.
Car Instead of Scooter
At eighteen, I finished school, got my driver's license, and started working in a plastics factory for ten euros an hour. After months of night shifts and holiday bonuses, I bought a red 1997 Mazda MX-3.
It tingled from my fingertips down my arms to all corners of my body as I turned the key to the side in my first car. The ignition hissed and the engine began to rumble. Now I could drive in any weather, in any direction, until the tank was empty.
After 600 kilometers, I had to refuel with almost 40 liters of Super 95 and half a liter of engine oil. After nine months, all the brakes were worn out. After one year the wheel bearings were worn out, and after eighteen months, the exhaust had rusted through. While my job just about covered the cost of fuel and repairs, insurance and car tax ate up my savings. I decided to give the car away.
Train Instead of Car
There I sit again on the faded seat covers of the train, looking at the timetable. While the landscape passed by the window, I take a deep breath. I felt liberated. No more gas and repair costs. Instead of working for a car, today I sit on the train and look out the window. I can make better use of my time there and fret less about traffic jams and worry less about scratches in the paint. For shorter distances I ride my bike and occasionally I borrow an electric car.