After living in Switzerland for almost three years, it’s becoming harder and harder to travel abroad.
“Oh my God, there’s a leaf on the sidewalk,” I’ll exclaim to my husband on one of our weekend trips to France, “And did you see that PET bottle in the gutter? It should have been recycled!”
Switzerland is the cleanest country I’ve ever lived in. I enjoy the shiny public toilets. I enjoy the spotless streets. I enjoy the way I could drink from my gutter after my neighbour’s had her way with it. But it sure makes going anywhere else a bummer.
Like inside my own apartment, for example. Here, dirty dishes never fail to take over the kitchen and piles of paper always threaten to consume the living room. Forget my white socks, if anything screams foreigner, it’s the state of my apartment.
While the whole Swiss “timeliness is next to Godliness” philosophy has rubbed off on me and I no longer think twice about giving that one-minute tardy tram driver the evil eye, I just can’t seem to let dirt bother me.
This is really schlecht, I know, but somehow when I see men hired to scrub trashcans at public transportation hubs, I can’t help but feel it’s a bit unnecessary in the overall scheme of things.
But then again, if I had made a career of cleaning, I wouldn’t be an English copywriter without much copy to write, waiting for a train in Bubikon and staring at a billboard for lingerie that says “Just feel on wings”, which is located next to a gigantic gleaming ashtray. Clearly when you have the choice between polished English or shiny receptacles, the garbage cans win in Switzerland.
So when I have to stand in a small line for exactly 23 minutes and 13 seconds to get an ice cream cone on a sunny Sunday, I’m not surprised at the wait time. After all, it’s not that the ice cream man scoops slowly, or that he’s disorganized. It’s just that after every scoop, he takes a rag and wipes down the counter.
When I’m finally handed my cone, I can’t help but feel a little afraid as I take it. Because what happens, heaven forbid, if I drip?