We finally broke down and bought the little red-haired girl a new bicycle last week. Summer’s already here and besides, pretty soon I’m going to have to drop the little.
We’d been holding off because it’s just so difficult to find a decent bike for a growing kid in Germany. You either find junk at the bottom end of the scale – expensive junk to boot – or top-flight bikes that will get ripped off the moment you leave it outside, which she is forced to do because there is no other place to lock them up where we live.
Then at one shop where we’d finally found one that was right for her, I told the guy that we wanted a really good lock, mentioning also that I’d had parts ripped off from my own bike after leaving it outside for only one night.
No problem, he said. If you’re worrried about security, you can get a complete insurance package for only eight euros a month. It includes replacement for theft and new parts if they’re stolen or the bike vandalised. Even if she has a fall, they’ll fix it for her.
So I signed up for the deal, thinking that it’s cheap at twice the price if I don’t have to worry about replacing a stolen bike a week after buying it.
After explaining to her that the insurance only works if she locks the bike around a bike stand or pole so that it can’t be carried away, she asked me:
How does the insurance work? What if you had two kids who needed bikes, but only enough money for one? Couldn’t you just hide the bike and tell the insurance company that the bike was stolen? Then you’d get another one for the other kid for free.
Sure, you could do that. I’m sure there are people who have done that. Would you like to be one of them?
Well, I’m glad to hear that. Did you know there are people who try to get out of working by pretending they’re sick, saying things like their back hurts all the time, or that they can’t get out of bed?
They get to go on disability pension, which means they get money every month without having to work anymore, even though they’re not sick. But there’s a catch. The insurance companies have people who check up on them. If they see them carrying around a pair of skis, riding their bikes, whatever, they get cut off their money, they don’t get to go back to their old jobs… they end up with nothing.
Trying my best not to sound preachy, but probably failing because I’m doing all the talking, I add:
It just makes more sense to be honest and tell people the truth. That way, you don’t have to remember what you said to anybody, because it will always be the same thing. You won’t always have to be looking over your shoulder, either.