No Longer Of Use

Beep, beep, beep.


There is a persistent noise I keep hearing wherever I walk. It follows me to the corner shop and back home. It greets me at the tram stop. My trained ears can even detect it from my work-from-home window, timidly open the few centimeters the building has allowed its residents-slash-home workers in the name of safety.

The first time I heard it, I was puzzled. I was walking on a pavement with nothing much to see, except some shrub at the side of the road. The noise drew me to the bush like a magnet, or like a dog seeking a bone. What on earth was it?


It turned out, the beeping sound was the miserable cry of an abandoned electric scooter, left all on its own with a drained battery and no friends. Eventually, a large van would come rescue it, no doubt, and the driver man (I imagined him zen-like and bearded) would safely deposit the abandoned electric device amongst its peers, and ride on to the next bush. I could only imagine the amount of beeping inside the van.

At some point, I started taking photos. I didn’t plan to document the story of discarded scooters in my town, the phenomenon just drew me to it and I started clicking.

Lonesome scooter abandoned in a green bush, with only its red handles peeking out, like a clue.

Scooter left by the seaside at sunset, looking instagram-esque.

Another one chucked, resting haphazardly on grey pavement.

By the looks of it, the rider must have disappeared in haste, and you wondered where they went and how they left the scene. Did a boat come pick them up, or a spaceship? It was like finding one shoe in a park – you wondered if the owner never noticed it go missing.

Then I deleted the photos, growing tired of the project. In the photo illustrating this post, what now draws my attention is the sign reflecting in the window.

Stockmann used to be my favorite department store and deli. Now, it’s struggling with the threat of bankruptcy, and has outsourced its departments and delis. The entity itself is gone, it is a mere shell. This happened before the virus hit real-life businesses and one of its problems was that it never managed to adapt to online business very well.

If the virus goes on for years and years, what will happen to all the spaces downtown that used to house shops and businesses?

If everything moves online and people work from home, will we even have city centers anymore, or will the concept disappear with abandonment? Maybe neighbourhoods will take over (which I don’t mind).

The Stockmann sign in the window is looking more and more like a ghost.


41 responses to “No Longer Of Use

  1. It does hurt me reading Stockmann is in danger. The majestic dark building looming over its corner in the heart of the city. Well, over here department stores are facing the same faith. And although I hardly enter (entered) one myself, the empty buidings where nobody really knows what to do with them make city centre somber en desolated. I strongly belief that a city needs a heart, else it stops being a city and it becomes a conglomerate of suburbs, wich to my European eye is odd. The idea of abandoned scooters is cool! Although I somehow do understand you got tired of it. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • Well put, Peter, a city does need a heart and I don’t like the idea of just suburbs and malls, without a ”heart”. What I wouldn’t mind, though, was for the city’s residential areas to get a little more lively: local cafes, restaurants, etc. That would also be a way to keep people in their own districts and slow corona’s spreading 🤔

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I was wondering about the same thing only I live in a suburban area so I was thinking of what might happen to all the enclosed mega malls. What will become of these two blocks long , two story buildings and basement areas if there is not enough customer revenue to stay open.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Will some of those malls, somewhere in the world, end up looking like apocalypse happened and turn into a jungle with wild animals? Or a place for drug addicts to gather with their needles? 😬 I’ve seen photos of abandoned airports that look like that

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ahh, you deleted the entire series, only this photo survives? 😮 I thought your post didn’t load correctly when I saw only one photo. For me it would be great to see more of these evocatively beeping beasties. As for what is coming, we shall see.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. The double – and maybe multitudes of – meaning of your title! (Sadly) Maybe if everything we are at risk of losing would beep beep beep, we’d take a second look! Here, if you don’t return a city bike or a scooter to one of its racks, I think you keep paying. I don’t use them often so I’m not sure.

    In answer to your question in another comment, I am fine! Just busy with my own kids who, as you know, are widely scattered, so seeing them takes a lot of time and effort! Hope you are good, too!

    Liked by 3 people

    • I’m glad you noticed the double meaning of the title 😋 That would be a good idea, to keep paying! We have bikes anf cargo bikes for rent too and they have to be returned. For some reason, the scooter companies don’t seem to mind driving around scouting for battery-dead scooters amongst the bushes…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Seems a bit odd to just dump the scooters anywhere, or is it that people are supposed to leave them in view but don’t? As to the future of brick and mortar stores, it’s a big question. Many were already reeling from the transition to online shopping. The virus might just be the killer blow. In the U.S., shopping malls left many downtowns gutted, but now a lot of malls have been abandoned and are just giant parking lots and decaying concrete lumps. Who knows what will happen to them. Seems like they could be put to use as homeless shelters or for other useful purposes, but they’re privately owned and the corporations that own them would rather leave them empty that put them to that kind of use.

    Liked by 3 people

        • I have a bad habit of selling myself short. I guess these are the same people who won’t give used baby clothes to their friends for free and who wouldn’t accept anything less than a management position as their first job straight out of uni… Clearly I’m doing it all wrong!!

          Liked by 2 people

          • Truth is, I have zero desire to be in a management position, and I’ve had a few. In my experience, what it boils down to is saying to underlings (and what a great word that is) would you mind doing your job. I found it a bit depressing actually.

            Liked by 2 people

  6. We had the same problem here, parking of rented bikes just anywhere. So the gov’t had to step in, provided proper parking space for bikes. Now everything’s good….
    Down here, shops have opened but many have incorporated an online platform to their business to keep them relevant. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I read about a similar problem in China, with abandoned bicycles – again, it had to do with rentals or ride and pay services. Its a faulty business model because people started abandoning them anywhere & everywhere. Piles of bicycles were cluttering up the sidewalks and alleys. In one city, the ‘city’ collected bikes and filled up an entire stadium field! In my town, that particular rental model doesn’t exist – we have ride&pay bikes but they have to be locked & docked at parking stations or else the renter is penalized.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. If the online thing goes on, Parkinson’s Law will apply: all resources will be used until they are drained out. The ground floor stores and commercial buildings will be empty. Some landlords will go bankrupt or sell it for apartments. There’s always a shortage of flats downtown. Someone will think of something.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I had to look up Parkinson’s Law: that is so true!!!
      Maybe the empty stores will become covid testing points?!? 🤪 I just read that we are getting one in my little residential area and I’m not thrilled. It means that infected people will be roaming the streets next to our home and daycare. Hard to stay safe if they bring the sick here ☹️

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Lovely, as always. You have beautifully captured the current state of affairs worldwide through this post…I also wonder what will happen if this situation doesn’t get better fast. Here in the US many companies are thinking of closing shop and so many have had to let their workers go. Mom and Pop shops are struggling so hard. I wonder if places will start looking like scenes from one of those movies with apocalyptic themes. But I want to carry on hoping that it will get better before it’s too late. We have recently had a few new residential complexes built around our neighborhood..they are empty too but as you mentioned, prices are not being reduced. As for those scooters, they are crying our for help in my mind! I like the layered meaning in the title:)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Moon! I agree with everything you said and am glad you noticed the title 😊 Confusing times. Things are looking pretty normal over here but there is an uncertainty about the future, obviously… and this would be a stressful time to be looking for a new job, for example! Take care!


  10. Poor scooter, it looks so forlorn. Yes, it’s sad to drive around and see how many business – some that have been foundations of communities – have gone under. This insidious disease just doesn’t quit. Its like It’s like watching flood water ebb away at a riverbank until homes slowly start falling in.

    Liked by 2 people

    • So true. It also shows us how fragile our economic structure has been. Maybe it’s time to make a leap in rhe organisation of work life to one where employees have more power over their own situation, and start being more creative and less bureaucratic


  11. One of the things that captured my attention when I moved to Germany is the Old town and row of little shops.It´s nice to walk into them even not shopping at least. But because of Corona, many shops are getting a shutdown now, including restaurants.Yesterday I went to one of the shopping center in our old town because it will be closed by October and they are running discount sales–I have mixed emotions while walking through, also I thought about people who lost their jobs.Right now many people doesn´t have a job and even though here in Germany that most are in Kurzarbeit ( short time working hours)…it´s just tough for most of us.
    This virus is for real…I dunno exactly what will happen on the coming months…dreading Winter!

    But hey…I will never hop on those E-scooter !Oppssss..
    Too scary and fast for me, its a fad over here.Great option but I am happy with my bike.I feel safer!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Same here, I’m too scared of those e-scooters to try one! And no one wears a helmet, yikes!!!! As for jobs, I’m very grateful and lucky I’m no longer working in the travel industry…. phew, dodged a bullet there!
      Hope things get easier for everyone soon – are you painting currently? Take care and stay safe!!!! Tschuss! xx

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Interesting, in the States we’ve had similar issues. Some scooters were actually thrown in the harbor in Seattle :-/ I wonder if it is also a reflection of the mood of the population, so much uncertainty. Wishing you well ~ take care.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for really reading and taking the time to interact 😊 Scooters have been dug up from the harbor here too, I don’t really get why vandalism is fun for certain groups of people… otherwise life here is pretty calm, all in all. It might be a reflection of the mood, as you say. Enjoy your Sunday!


  13. Perhaps some of the unreasonable compulsions of normal life would fade away

    Like the idea of perpetual growth
    Or the tricks of bankers being rewarded more than the truth of artists
    Being productive overwhelming the importance of being quiet
    The distraction of entertainment taking the place of the simple joys in small things

    Liked by 1 person

    • Perpetual growth – that’s a good one (to get rid of). And meanwhile, where is perpetual development in the sense that why do nations still waste money on war and not medicine? Why don’t we aim to make our lives more comfortable and enjoyable (everyone’s, not just the elite’s). I think some things can’t be fixed even by the virus… Thanks for reading!


  14. A lot of money is spent both on war and medicine because they play a large role in keeping the industrial economy going

    More than medicines, good health needs nutritious food, clean air and hygienic sanitation . We depend on farmers and municipal workers more than doctors for our health

    Despite all the problems of the world, it is still great to wake up to life each morning . Thankfully no one can take that away from us

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.