The German-speaking group with the AWCZ that I have started meeting with has a native Swiss woman who joins us to help us with our grammatical questions and she also gives us a look into Swiss thinking. Today when I saw her, she said, “Hallo” and I replied, “Hallo!” Then I said, “Grüetzi” which has become an easy habit for me. She said that when you meet with friends (and because we are in this group, and we are now friends, but we use the informal du – the fast track for this American!) you say “Hallo” rather than “Grüetzi”.
The other day at the Coop (grocery store pronounced Cope) I had to sign for the credit card (sometimes I don’t have to, and I’m not sure why – it doesn’t seem to have to do with the amount). It takes me an extra few seconds to get through all 18 letters in my name, and the cashier smiled at me and said something about how long my name was (I think that’s what she said). I smiled and said “genau” (exactly) and that gave her license to say something to me in that incomprehensible Swiss German. So I just nodded and smiled. Then I packed my groceries and said, “Schönen Tag” and went on my happy way.
H had a similar experience in the lift yesterday. He held the door for some man who rattled off a bunch of words to H to which he replied, “Das Lift geht schnell.” Smiles all around and off they went. I have a new appreciation for the English Language Learners in the US!