Sunday, April 15, 2012

2AM Bike Rides

For those of you that know me probably can't imagine me biking to work at 2 in the morning, but it's true.  When I first moved to the Netherlands my in-laws employed me, they gave me an opportunity to join the IT world and learn the family business.  But after many discussions with my husband we decided it was best for me to find work elsewhere.  I upped and quit my job one weekend (in hind sight I would have done things differently), and decided to pursue new things.  In all of the discussion I never once considered I might not be able to find work (I was in my early 20's).  In The States it was easy (I'm talking before the recession), I thought it would be just as easy here, I never once figured in that I barely spoke Dutch and never completed college.  Well, I was in for a rude awakening.  I reverted back to my teenage years and started going shop to shop asking for applications and work.  Most of the people chuckled or stared at me like I was an alien, mostly because my Dutch request wasn't better than a 5yr old.  Now that my Dutch has improved and I look back I was literally saying : "I search work".  Who says that?  I should have consulted with my husband, jotted down a few Dutch sentences, anything other than standing at the counter of the baker, the drug store, and the grocery store saying, "I search work".  I sounded like a caveman!  Anyway, I put in applications where I could and eventually landed a job.  It was seasonal work (1 month) at a strawberry farm.  Cold December, standing in a non-heated barn, sorting strawberries with other foreigners.  I gladly accepted, money was money.  Then days later I convinced UPS to hire me in their warehouse, they were very reluctant, they couldn't see the benefit of a female office worker in their warehouse sorting boxes in the dead of the night.  But with a lot of begging they gave me a chance... now I temporarily had 2 jobs.  I didn't want to let the farm down, so I decided to push myself harder than ever physically.  I would wake up at 1AM, get ready for work at the warehouse, bike there at 2AM, work until 7AM, then bike straight to the farm, and work there until the afternoon, CRAZY!  But I did it.  Anyway, my post is supposed to be about the bike ride (but hey I always have to give the back story).  I'm an American, the idea of a woman out on a bike, alone, at 2AM sounded insane, but I didn't have an option.  Not to mention I really suck at riding a bike!  Luckily the UPS warehouse was only 3.1km (2 miles) from our apartment, I could get there in about 10-15 minutes (depending on how fast I biked).  I'm a fairly nervous/paranoid/antsy person in general, so you can imagine what a 2AM bike ride, alone, in the dark, to the outskirts of town, through a wooded area must have felt like for me.  I came up with tactics to make sure there was no one following me.  Some of the bike paths had loose stones that would clink when I biked over them.  I learned to bike around them, knowing if I was being followed they wouldn't know to avoid the stone and I would hear them.  Or I would listen to the leaves on the bike path, too much rustling or crackling behind me would make me bike two times as fast.  Obviously I survived because I'm writing this blog!  I also learned other things, like how to bike in the snow & ice, or freezing rain, as I already mentioned it was the winter.  I also got to deal with the Thursday night bar crowd, I was leaving for work as they were wrapping up at the bars.  One time I even saw a man passed out in the middle of a round-about, that was interesting.  My work at the warehouse only lasted 4 months, because I managed to get promoted to the office.  I was obviously out of place in the warehouse, but I didn't mind the physical work, I was the thinnest and most muscular I had ever been.  What I minded was the fact my mind wasn't challenged (and the hours of course).  I also proved a lot to myself (and family); I'm not afraid to work hard, I'm not afraid to start at the bottom and work my way up, and I try my best not to think I'm too good to do something or better than anyone else.  You never know where life may take you, and sometimes you have to spiral to the bottom to get to the top. 


  1. Wow! What a way to start your day! Your dedication is fantastic :)
    What time would you go to bed to wake up a 1? My husband leaves for work at 4 so we're tucked up by 9 every night

  2. Hi Sara, I usually went to bed about 7PM, and I also took a nap after work. It ruined my sleep pattern for years, even after I moved to the office and worked hours during the day! :) Danica