Jochen from the SIP Scootershop Team: "I have an awesome life".

Created by Dietrich Limper at 07:09 on September 28, 2022

The story of SIP Scootershop employee Jochen

Actually, everything went according to plan for Jochen. In 1990, at the age of three, he came to Germany from the Romanian town of Mediasch with his parents and a younger brother. He attended primary school in Kaufering, Upper Bavaria, and in 2004 he completed his secondary education at the Realschule in the large district town of Landsberg am Lech. This was followed by training as an electronics technician as a civilian at the Penzing air base, then still a Bundeswehr site. The apprentice enjoyed life, had many friends, was in a relationship, loved sports (judo, snowboarding, mountain biking) and action. Only the subsequent work as a journeyman in a former bunker in Igling did not suit the young man, and in February 2008 he decided to seek his fortune in gastronomy. Two days before the opening of a restaurant in Kaufering, he and his buddies took a momentous trip to Hochsölden in Austria. It was 24 October 2009, a date Jochen will never forget.

"I can still see it in front of me today. The sun was shining in a blue sky, the fresh snow was glittering like millions of diamonds and we were fooling around in the snow," Jochen remembers. "Then I had the idea of falling headfirst into the snow. I fell so badly that my head got stuck in the deep snow and my body slid over it. I heard it crack and I felt a short pain. After that, from the fifth cervical vertebra, it tingled once through the whole body and I had no feeling in those places afterwards."

Transport by helicopter

His friends thought he was joking when he said he could no longer move. Broken bones were something Jochen was used to through his many sporting activities, but at that moment he knew something bad had happened and his life was about to change. He was carefully turned onto his back and after fifteen minutes the mountain rescue team appeared, but they quickly realised that Jochen could not be transported on the sledge. He was lucky because there was a ski race on the slope opposite and there was a helicopter there. The helicopter was requested and was there in a few minutes, but could not land because the terrain was too steep. So the victim was packed into a vacuum stretcher and flown down to the valley hanging on a rope. "On the bottom of the helicopter it said 'Martin 375', I remember that clearly. And I was still annoyed that I was finally flying through the mountains but couldn't look around."

Everything in view in the small parts warehouse

The transport ended at the university hospital in Innsbruck. After the X-ray, the doctors told him what he had already suspected: the fifth cervical vertebra was broken. In a three-hour operation, a titanium plate was inserted and attached to the fourth and sixth cervical vertebrae. Parts of the bone were taken from the pelvis and smeared into the fracture site as a mush. "You may not be able to breathe on your own after the operation," the doctor had said, "forever." But Jochen was spared that. He woke up from the anaesthetic in a room with seven other patients, all of whom were in a coma. He couldn't move his fingers, but at least he could still move his hand. And he could breathe.

When the doctor came, there was only one question Jochen asked him: "So, when will I be able to walk again?" That would no longer be possible with this injury, was the answer. "If you can drive independently with an electric wheelchair at some point, then a lot has already been achieved," was the prognosis. "I thought to myself, I'll show him what I'm made of," Jochen recounts and gave himself a fighting spirit. A characteristic that was to have a decisive influence on the following years.

After eleven days, he was transferred to the accident clinic in Murnau, which enjoys an excellent reputation. The long process of rehabilitation began and was to last four months. Jochen had to learn everything anew and come to terms with the fact that he could not actually move anything from his neck upwards, except for his arms and hands. "Fortunately, I was young and very fit at the time. My body still wanted it. Today, I might not be able to make the transition. I was sure that I would leave Murnau running on two legs."

In negotiation with customs and freight forwarders

Return to life

But first he had to learn to sit again, which took many days. And when he was finally able to use an active wheelchair, that was a big event. He was not to leave this wheelchair again until today, because he could no longer reactivate his legs. "Shit," Jochen thought then for the first time. "I was 22, I had plans, I was finally earning money, I had a great girlfriend and I wanted to take off in life! And then this! I can't go to the toilet on my own anymore, I need help for everything. I didn't even have the strength to lift the spoon from my plate to my mouth. Then I really went through a rough patch for a week. But my friends visited me every day and if I hadn't had them, I wouldn't be where I am today."

The stay in Murnau lasted four months and Jochen realised that he was not the first person to have something like this happen to him. He took up the fight and decided to make the best of his situation. A decision for life.

Next stop: three months in Bad Wildbad in the Black Forest for follow-up treatment. During this time, he changed his private living situation, because the flat on the third floor was of course completely unsuitable. His girlfriend and friends organised a new place to stay, the move and made everything handicapped accessible. "I was prepared for life outside the bubble hospital. Even today, I go to Bad Wildbad once a year for rehab. Finally, my girlfriend picked me up and I came to the new flat in Kaufering for the first time. It was an advantage that my girlfriend was in Munich studying all day, so I was forced to manage at home on my own. I did get meals brought in, but otherwise I was on my own. Eventually I got bored and had to figure out what else I wanted to do with my life."

Jochen at the gates of SIP Scootershop

Application to SIP Scootershop

In 2011, Jochen took a so-called "work trial" to find out what job he was suited for. In July of the same year, the began retraining as an industrial clerk and two and a half years later successfully passed the examination at the IHK. A period followed in which he lost his zest for life again. His girlfriend left him and he received only rejections on his more than 90 job applications. He hit rock bottom in 2014. But then he received an offer from Basti Attenberger to take over the accounting for "Traditional-Motors" in Obermeitingen. There he met Ludwig Matt, who told him about SIP Scootershop. "Why don't you apply there," Ludwig said. No sooner said than done. Two days later, Jochen was sitting at the table with SIP Scootershop boss Alex and started at Graf-Zeppelin-Straße in February 2015.

To this day, his area is the export of products that leave SIP Scootershop. He takes care of customs clearance and obtains quotations from shipping companies. "Everything that leaves the EU at SIP worth more than a thousand euros goes through me. The volume has now increased tenfold compared to the beginning. I send around nine pallets a week all over the world. In the past, that was one every four months. I enjoy it, I like doing it and I think it's great that I can work at least 40 hours a week. So the second apprenticeship has really paid off."

He gets along well with his colleagues and the circumstances. However, some new employees have to get used to his crude humour (also about himself). "I am simply in good hands at SIP Scootershop and feel comfortable there."

"We are certainly not 100 per cent barrier-free yet, but it was even worse in the old premises on Graf-Zeppelin-Straße," says Ralf Jodl, co-managing director of SIP Scootershop. "Where there is a will, there is usually a way. We can only encourage other companies to rely on employees like Jochen, because he has also brought about a positive change in the working atmosphere. Certain problems and aches and pains are simply put into perspective."

Sebastian Wiemer, Jochen's direct supervisor, can only agree: "My life often seems boring and dull compared to Jochen's, because I could do a lot more. It's really difficult not to get along with Jochen. After a short time, you completely fade out the fact that he is in a wheelchair. It's hard to imagine our team without Jochen. If he gets too cheeky, I just put his mobile phone on top of the cupboard."

Jochen says he has been at peace with himself since 2015. He plays wheelchair rugby for the Chariots in Augsburg, still has a large circle of friends and jets around on his hand e-bike. Since October 2017, he has even had his own car, as a VW T6 was converted so that he can drive it by voice control. A whole new way of life, Jochen assures us, and an investment of 65,000 euros. He has also found a new life partner and looks forward to the future with optimism and joie de vivre. "I have everything I need," he says with conviction, "and it's mainly thanks to my friends that I made it. I can't imagine it and I haven't met anyone yet who has made it on their own. It may sound stupid, but I can't say it any other way: I have a really awesome life."

Picture gallery: Employee portrait Jochen

Jochen bei SIP Scootershop

Best Workspaces 2022 Video - SIP Scootershop

Dietrich Limper
Dietrich Limper

Dietrich Limper works as an editor for SIP Scootershop and also writes for local and national publications. When he's not geocaching, he enjoys the amazing antics of Bayer Leverkusen.