Once upon a time…
When I was a student I didn’t have much disposable income and while I worked 15-20 hours a week all throughout my 4 years at university, luxuries like hair cuts and massages were still a rare treat.
After a few years in the workforce I am pleased to say that I can now afford to have my hair tended to regularly. When my free time and German business opening hours magically align, I do get the occasional guilt-free massage. And I don’t need to eat canned beans for a week to make it happen.
In the past I would spend hours every weekend slowly cleaning the house and I always dreaded it. Because I hate cleaning. Especially when it comes to using buckets and water. I’m not a messy or dirty person, so there isn’t much to clean, but I still don’t like it. I’d rather ride my bike.
I also don’t like doing the dishes and will never live in a house without a dishwasher. Is it because I’m a pretentious and spoiled little princess minus the crown? No, it’s because I consider the activity of cleaning dishes by hand neither efficient nor ecologically sensible. Packing the dishwasher takes a couple of minutes and means everything is gone from the kitchen bench and I can focus on other stuff.
My brother loves to hunt for bargains and can spend days if not weeks researching the newest purchase he is planning to make. I have neither the patience nor the interest. If I like something, I just buy it. Yes, this way I miss out on bargains because I don’t wait for price reductions. But it also means, I only buy things when I need them, rather than wandering around the shops in search for a bargain, which I never intended to buy or even need in the first place. I only go shopping when I need stuff. And when I find the right pair of shoes, the perfect spring coat or the right-sized TV for my training room, I decide on the spot and make the purchase.
This results in quite a bit of satisfaction on my part and from my experience over the last couple of years, it has saved me a good amount of time, which I spent doing things I enjoy.
I don’t claim that you can’t enjoy cleaning, doing the dishes and bargain hunting. It’s just not very high on my list of fun activities :-).
For this reason I have also hired a cleaner. Yes, I am an employer, she is registered, insured, the whole lot. And I really like her, she does a great job and every Friday when I come home I smile to myself and think ‘Money well spent!’
I am highly appreciative of her work (and tell her so!), because it gives me a lot of free time. What she can do in 2 hours, would probably take me 4, as I would procrastinate and stare at the bucket of soapy water before soaking the mop with an annoyed frown on my face.
Fixing my bike
When my bike needs a tune up, I bring it to the mechanic. Yes, I could learn how to do it all myself, but it doesn’t interest me enough how all the different parts hang together, how they work and how to maintain them and it also would take a lot of time to get to the level of competence that my trusted mechanic has.
I happily change my tires and tubes, clean my bike, lube the chain, not a problem. But fine-tuning the gears, adjusting the derailleur or cleaning Sydney sand out of the downtube? That’s a job for the experts. I drop off my bike, pick it up a few days later and it’s back in tip-top shape.
I love hearing stories from people who can do all these hands-on jobs themselves. People who can fix things and create stuff out of a few raw materials. Creative people with handyman skills… But I’m not that kind of person. My manual skills extend to typing stuff into a keyboard to express all the ideas in my brain. I’m good at the thinking bit, but don’t expect me to ace the woodworking class…
To acquire any of those skills would require a substantial time commitment which I am simply not willing to make. My previous futile attempts with sewing machines and knitting needles ended in piles of unfinished projects and a stash of nice fabrics that never saw daylight.
I have learned my lesson and am sticking to what I’m good at. I pay the experts for the rest and enjoy those little luxuries.
And when the time comes for a new haircut, I wouldn’t even dream of picking up the scissors myself. My dad still jokingly offers to cut my fringe, just like he did when I was 3. But I smile and pass, pick up my new spring coat and walk into town where Vivi drapes one of those flattering capes around my shoulders and I settle in for the wash, cut and blow-dry.