At the camping in Meppen I pitched my tent alongside another hiker’s tent, but strangely enough, my neighbour was no holiday hiker or cyclist. He was Werner Dieter, a 73-year-old German with two children who are still studying. To pay for their studies, Werner Dieter works installing gas pipelines for a company in Haaren, more than 10 km from Meppen.
Werner Dieter lives quite far away from Haaren and he cannot afford staying in a hotel, so he bought himself a tent of 29 euros and a sleeping bag of 9 euros and he lives at the camping in Meppen. During weekends, he cycles to the shopping mall in the city center, he does the laundry and he reads his newspaper on a bench next to his tent. I do not know what he does when it rains. He probably stays underneath the lean-to before the sanitary installations.
Werner Dieter is happy that he doesn’t have to live for another 100 years, because he is not optimistic about the future of mankind and the planet. He realizes the way we are currently living, we are destroying the planet.
Installing gas pipelines is a heavy labour, so I asked how long he still plans to do this job. Dieter hopes to be able to stop after this summer. His kids will have completed their studies and he hopes he and his wife will be able to survive on their small retirement benefit of 1000 euros/month, 600 euros of which goes into paying their rent….
Hello Germany? Hello Europe? What about our welfare state?!!!