When I was 14, my grand-father gave me an old derelict barely functional scooter for my birthday.

It was ugly and needed repairs, but it was my scooter. I had no idea which model or make it was because, well, the stickers had fallen off.

Coming from a single-mother family with limited funds, this was my biggest gift ever: I was able to travel around the area alone.

I used it to secure a paper run and save enough money to buy my own brand new black Honda Elite LX scooter.

I admit, I traded my derelict scooter and got a 20% rebate so I didn’t buy it entirely with my own funds, but still, I paid a lot more than that rebate in repairs over the previous months so in the end, I still think I paid for it alone.

No longer ashamed of my scooter, I started going to school in my new hyper-cool scooter and was the envy of many of the dozen scooter owners, many of which had used older scooter (but still nicer than my first one).

The mirror problem

Scooters have 2 mirrors and they are not locked in any way. There were only 2 models of mirrors: Round and Rectangular.

Driving without your mirrors will get you a 48 hours ticket which, while it didn’t bill you any fines, forced you to go to the police station to prove you had bought a replacement mirror.

Sometimes, you dropped your scooter on the side. I did it a few times with my first scooter, learning the ropes, buy my Elite LX was my baby so I paid a LOT of attention even if it was much heavier.

Sometimes, when you dropped your scooter, the mirror on that side would break, forcing you to buy a new one.

In reality, most 3rd year of High School students didn’t want to admit to their parents that they didn’t take good care of their scooter, so instead, they would steal a mirror from an unattended scooter.

Never both mirror or the person couldn’t drive and would call the police.

The musical chair

And so, over the next few weeks, students would usually steal each other’s mirrors so fill the gap until someone would pay for a new mirror one way or another.

Most mirrors were round, mine were rectangular, so I was unaffected.

Until some round mirror owners decided to switch to rectangular ones to reduce the chance of theft.

And so, one day, one of my mirrors was stolen.

I could have played the musical chair and decided to steal a mirror, figuring that my victim probably stole his.

But instead, I decided to do the honorable thing and visit a junk yard known for having scooter parts (I was a former client for my first scooter).

The solution

New mirrors were $25 back then (when the minimum wage was probably $6 per hour and the gas closer to 60 cents per liter), but used mirrors were $4-5 each.

So, I bought 2 of each side. I still paid less than a brand new mirror, but I had a plan.

Buying a new mirror for myself instead of stealing one broke the musical chair, but I then offered to the other riders to buy my surplus for $6 each, and they didn’t have to pay me on delivery.

The goal was not for me to make money, but just to protect myself from theft.

It worked.