Bored Faithful readers of ShazzerSpeak know that neither Dr. Darling nor myself own a car, and we haven’t since I moved to Sweden, “Lo those three years ago.” This has been primarily a financial decision. At first we just couldn’t comfortably swing a car payment while living on one grad student’s salary. Then we couldn’t swing a car payment on a part-time university employee’s salary combined with a newly graduated PhD’s unemployment benefit.
Once I started working full-time, having a car payment was no longer a problem … but because my contract with my company is project-based rather than “permanent”, qualifying for an auto loan IS a problem. (As is being able to sign a lease for a larger apartment and a host of other things that require stable employment status.) Fortunately, our community has a very good public transportation system, we live within walking distance of the grocery store and the post office, and are happy to ride bikes nearly everywhere else about 10 months out of the year. (Plus, we’re saving a ton of money that would otherwise be spent on a car payment and higher rent.)
Dr. Darling’s parents are also very generous about providing access to their vehicles…and so when her Dad and his common-law wife were vacationing in Greece at the end of August/beginning of September, they left their big Volvo with us on their way to the airport in Copenhagen.
We returned it to them just in time to avoid having to declare bankruptcy. Of course everyone knows that gasoline is notoriously expensive on this side of the pond, but that’s not the most costly thing about having a car as far as we’re concerned. The fact is, we just spend more money in general when we have a car because we can haul whatever we buy back to the apartment quickly and easily.
Our spending spree this time around started with Victoria, but it turns out that she was just the tip of the iceberg. We also bought a fancy electronic scale that measures not only body weight but also the percentages of muscle mass, fat and water. (We’ve each lost about 10 lbs. since the beginning of July and Dr. Darling thought this scale might help keep us motivated.)
Then last weekend we found trekking backpacks on sale … something we’ve been talking about buying for about a year now so that we could have the option to hike and camp instead of always having to bike and camp. And then finally, courtesy of an amazing end-of-season sale at a local sporting goods store this past weekend, we bought not one, but TWO bicycles for commuting and running around town.
Now I know what you’re thinking: “Didn’t you just buy a new bicycle this past Spring?” The short answer is YES. The long answer is, “YES, but that’s part of the problem because after spending two full weeks on Big Red during our cycling vacation to Denmark and Germany, I was no longer happy riding Ol’ Blue to and from the train station every day and there’s NO WAY I’m going to leave the new Trek parked outside Malmö Central all day long.” This was also an issue for Dr. Darling, who is now commuting to Copenhagen every day and did not want to leave her British-made, steel-framed touring bike there either.
So we now each have a bike that is not only comfortable to ride but can be subjected to the wear and tear of being jammed into the bike racks at Malmö Central five days a week with far less threat of being stolen. The only drawback is that because the sale was so good and the stock was somewhat depleted, we had to buy two of the exact same model. (At least it’s decent looking.)
So just when I thought we couldn’t be any dorkier, we end up with matching bikes. We also now own six bikes between us … though Dr. Darling’s antique 12-speed road bike is barely rideable and really shouldn’t count.
But did I mention that we don’t own a car?