Last week I had a number of experiences which felt uniquely Swiss, so I thought I'd share. I suppose I should put out the disclaimer that it is entirely possible that these things do not happen in all of Switzerland, just the city or Canton where we are living. It is also possible that these things are common across Europe, and I am unaware. In any case these things brightened my day, and made it very clear that I am not in Kansas (er, DC) anymore!
1. A letter telling me I have been awarded 80 free trash bags because I had a child.
I have been excited about receiving this letter for months, and was beginning to doubt its existence. But no, it's real! It's like getting 160 bucks just for having a baby.
2. A letter telling me that I need to "present myself" and pay 30 CHF for my child.
(Can't they just reduce the number of trash bags they're going to give me?)
Seriously. I even re-typed the letter into Google Translate to make sure I'd understood correctly. I must go to the Bureau of Foreigners to complete the formality of announcing my child and pay for him. ??
3. A portable traffic light.
It was awesome. They're doing construction on our street, so rather than having workers stand and conduct traffic, they placed a generator-powered traffic light there. What was even more impressive was that people actually heeded the light. If it were me, and I wasn't used to seeing it there every day, I probably would have just driven right through.
4. Closing down the grocery check-out.
Since the grocery stores close so early here, and the one closest to me does not permit strollers (I think), it is not always easy for us to get groceries. We decided it was best to do one big grocery shop every weekend, so that we have plenty of food to get us through the week. I think maybe this is not the Swiss way, because the cashier looked alarmed at the amount of groceries we were purchasing. She closed down the aisle behind us, so that her line would not get too backed up while she rang up all of our things. She also looked concerned when handing us the receipt, as if our grocery bill was unusually high.
5. 10 CHF for a pint of Ben & Jerry's ice cream!!
I try to be a good ex-pat and not compare all of the time (though I am doing a terrible job of this), but man, I thought Ben & Jerry's was expensive in the US. Wrong.
I mean, it's delicious, but the fact that people are willing to pay 10 CHF for a tiny ice cream really blows my mind!!