As a typical Virgo, I was quite excited to hear about the Swiss and their love of rules, sounded like just my kind of place. Little did I know that all the regulations would wake the latent rebel in me. Sometimes I long to do something wild like hang clothes out to dry on a Sunday …
My mum was considered a bit of a hippy back in the 80s for recycling and going on about E numbers. I was greeted every morning by the sight of a Greenpeace sticker urging me to save the whales. It must have sunk in though because I try to do my bit for the environment.
In Sydney I was pretty good at recycling and made regular trips to the yellow bin in our building. Here in Switzerland my efforts have dwindled because there are so many rules about when and where to put everything. At the moment there is a pile of cardboard threatening to take over the kitchen until we make it to collection day on the last Friday of the month. I take the rubbish out after dark because I’m never sure if its unexciting contents might be of interest to the ‘rubbish police’. The empty bottles on the balcony give the impression that there’s a party at our place every night. Recycling is not allowed on Sunday. Or weeknights. Right now I’m more scared of getting told off by the local oldies than the future of the planet.
Many of the rules here are related to noise, so downloading a film is okay, but if you wash your car or mow your lawn on a Sunday it’s quite possible that your neighbour might call the police.
When I can’t ignore the pile of dirty clothes any longer and take it upon myself to spontaneously stroll to the washing machine, I’m forever grateful that I don’t need to enter the world of shared laundry rules.
But as time passes I’m becoming more accustomed to the hushed Sunday’s and general sense of obedience. I was surprised to discover that Switzerland has one of the highest gun ownership rates in the world. Considering it’s not somewhere generally associated with violent crime, could there be something to learn from this tranquil land?
Perhaps the secret to a harmonious society is one where people respect the rules and each other’s right to peace. It might seem rigid and stifling to the uninitiated, but maybe that’s just part of the assimilation process.
I might still grumble about the growing bottle collection because Sunday seems to be the only day I have the inclination to do anything about it, but I’m starting to appreciate that other people might not want to listen to the sound of smashing glass. This new understanding might be a sign that I’m ready to enter a new phase of culture shock – adjustment.