Swissness

A few weeks ago I got my haircut. Since this is an every-eight-week event here, the difference is rather noticeable pre-and-post cut.

One of my Swiss orchestra friends, as well as the Swiss woman who meets with us Americans to work on our German both noted the haircut. And this is how the conversation went. “You got your haircut?” “Yes,” I replied. End of conversation. Now, normally, if someone goes out of their way to notice and comment on a change in style in the US, a further comment would be, “It looks good.” Or, “I like it.” Or even, “Do you like your stylist? I’m looking for a new one.”

Apparently that is not part of the equation here. It is just confirmation of a past action. I was telling this to someone who was born here to American parents. He’s very immersed, obviously, in Swiss culture, although he plans to attend college in the US in a few years. He thought about it for a moment and said, “This is good to know. When I’m in the States, and I notice a change of style, I should make a remark about it.” I said that not only would this be an American thing to do, the comment should be nice. Otherwise one should not make a remark at all. He seemed to think about this cultural difference for a moment, storing it away for future reference.

Another Swiss tendency is to walk quickly. I have no problem with that since I usually walk quickly. It’s probably one of the reasons that the Wanderweg (hiking trail) signs with distances written in times have been clocked by Swiss Senior Citizens who are used to walking quickly. (We always hope we make better time than posted, unless we stop to eat or take lots of photos.)

However, I notice that on the weekends, the tendency for the Swiss is to make up for the week and to slow to an excruciating snail’s pace. While I can appreciate the slower pace of the weekends (and I don’t mind the stores being closed on Sundays), I do prefer to walk a little faster than that and find myself occasionally frustrated being a slow walker who seems to veer into your path just as you try to pass.

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