“I can’t help but remember my father working on his old-timers and motorcycles in the garage. Then he put an engine block on the table and explained how everything worked. My interest was aroused. When I was nineteen I got my motorcycle license and I bought a Honda from 1977. It had quite a few defects.
I taught myself how to refurbish and customize the bike. Being able to maintain and repair such a beautiful machine myself gave a euphoric feeling. It gives an extra dimension to driving when you know that you can fix your bike yourself. That is why I retrained a few years ago so that I could do what I love to do: tinker with motorcycles. And I was very happy when I was allowed to start at a large garage during my training. “
“Even before I started training as a mechanic, I started working at a smaller motorcycle shop, where I had a great time and learned a lot. After a few months I was sure I wanted to continue in this area and signed up for the training as a motorcycle technician. I was the only woman on the motorcycle training course between the sixteen-year-old lads. I think the school was happy with me, because they wanted to encourage girls to choose this training. I also had the feeling of the boys in my class that they accepted me, so I never expected that there would be people in the industry who do have problems with my presence. “
“During my training, I had the opportunity to work at a major motorcycle brand where my passion lay. I was very happy, how cool was this? I thought that was my dream job. So I left the first garage. Afterwards I should never have done that, but I was young and took a gamble. After a nice conversation I was hired by the director, who was completely satisfied with me. But that man was at the head office.
He had not taken into account the hierarchy and the cocky behavior in the workplace. I worked with about ten technicians, who had never had a female colleague and not all of them were waiting for me. It didn’t take long before I was told that the workshop manager – so my immediate boss – also disagreed with my appointment. I still thought optimistically that it would work out, and that it was just a matter of getting used to each other. “
“Unfortunately, I soon noticed that I was treated differently because I am a woman. For example, I would be a ‘distraction’ for my younger colleagues and therefore had to work in the back of the workshop. Customers also had difficulty with a female mechanic. I was allowed to engines that I had serviced do not drive forward, because then customers would see that I had been working on it. It has sometimes happened that a customer saw me and then asked the chef if an extra check could be done. I spent most of the day brushing my motorcycles. Or I had to change a totally rusted tire, after which I got kicked because it had taken ‘too long’. “
‘I was broken’
“That made me incredibly insecure. And so I kept checking my work twice, so as not to make mistakes. Still I persisted, because giving up is not in my dictionary. And I did not let my dream of becoming a mechanic ruined, in that respect. I was determined. I did everything I could to get my education. In the workshop at school I practiced repairs that I was not allowed to do at work. I worked at that garage for a year and three months. My main concern was whether I would get my diploma. Fortunately I passed my exams. I finally had my paper, but was broken. “
“Still, I continued to enjoy tinkering, I just never wanted to work in a garage again. More and more people asked me if I could explain things so that they could maintain their engine themselves and not be ripped off by a garage. that could charge for unnecessary repairs. I also noticed that many people had no idea what the condition of their engine really is. How to recognize wear and tear on parts so that they can drive safely. And how the engine actually works and what you can do all yourself at home to maintain your engine.
That’s how I came up with the idea to give workshops. I received so much positive response that my self-confidence grew. At first mainly women came to my workshops, but later men too. I loved the first time a group of men listened carefully to my explanation. They were grateful for the explanation I gave them, explained in a simple and clear way with some humor and examples from their own bike here and there. ”
“Now there is a lot to learn from me: from eighteen-year-old girl to retired men. What used to be negative, namely the fact that I am a woman, now works to my advantage. People come to me because I am a woman. I am not a macho, explain everything calmly and there are no stupid questions for me.I have had a thriving business of my own for a number of years now and hope to inspire other girls.
Never again will I be told what I can or cannot do, and as an individual you can really make a difference. If you have to work hard for your passion and dream, and you succeed in the end, then you are proud of yourself. Despite the difficult start, it made me happy. Best of all, I did it myself. I have regained my self-confidence and do what I love to do: be busy with motorcycles. And as a bonus I can transfer my passion to others. “
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