Bulbs in Dubai

Dear parents,

do you remember?

“How many of my sons do I need to change a light bulb? Not a single one. I just do it myself.”

That was your favorite joke. At every birthday party. At every family reunion. And in general, over and over again.

“Imagine: Our son wants to be an electrician!”

At some point, I couldn’t hear it anymore. And then the rest of the family, too.

“He should rather learn something sensible.”

“What does he want to do with it later?”

“Can you earn money with it?”

I don’t think you ever realized how bad it was for me to grow up in a family of artists. The father an opera singer. The mother a writer. Brother number one was a virtuoso of expressive dance. And brother number two a true master of the abstract brushstroke. And then there was the little one. Three years younger than me and already equipped with more experience in harp music than I would ever gain during the rest of my life.

And me?

I’ve always liked to tinker with things. Instead of buying a new cabinet right away just because a door squeaked, I wanted to oil it. Instead of throwing away the shelf because it wobbled a little, I wanted to fix it. I wanted to replace the broken electrical outlet myself. I wanted to design and implement the house’s internet wiring myself.

But you wouldn’t let me do any of that. Everything was too down-to-earth for you. You wanted me to devote myself more to the more sophisticated things. The arts. A work of art instead of a workshop.

My only way out: secrecy. I practiced secretly at friends’ houses. I repaired their cabinets. Painted their walls. Laying their cables.

And changed their light bulbs.

At my eightteent birthday I gave you the gift of me moving out. You didn’t even pretend to be surprised by it.

“You’ve always been the aloof one in the family.”

That was all.

Good, at least you didn’t try to stop me. Maybe I can at least thank you for that. But you also never supported me. While other parents would have immediately sent me to the “wood crafting” class at my school if they had heard about my interest, you just ignored it. Just put up with it. No support in finding internships in the craft field. Instead, temping at the public library, so maybe I could be introduced to literature after all.

So today, five years later, I am writing you this letter.


Because I have finally reached the point where I can laugh at you. Where I can tell my own joke.

“How many of your sons does the city of Dubai need to change the light bulbs of the resident streetlights?”

Well, do you know the answer?

One. Me.

And they gave me a big-ass crane to do it.

Thanks for nothing.

Your son.

In Emergency Driver Simulator you drive all sorts of emergency vehicles such as ambulances or lamp changers around Dubai and work. It’s actually a parking game. And not really good.

This post is also available in: German