Wander, Wonder, Write

The Swiss (II): Idiosyncrasies

“Our perfect companions never have fewer than four feet.” 
― Colette

The Swiss may seem safe to the point of boring. They are organized, clean, polite. Citizens put their old newspapers out for recycling in ruler-straight, string-tied packages. Cars stop for pedestrians wanting to cross. Pet owners pick up after their dogs in the streets. Hikers keep the trails free from waste. And trains really do run on time—all the time. 

But when you look closer, beyond your first impressions, you may see idiosyncrasies demonstrating that the Swiss are quite human, like the rest of us. 

  • Zollikon, of all places, has a Nordamerica Native Museum, and no one I asked knows why.
  • The Swiss build cat ladders to help their cats get in and out of top floors. It’s so popular, a photographer has made a book about it.
  • Among liposuction clinics, banks, plastic surgeons, law offices, tanning salons, and Mercedes dealers, I ran into a Pet Acupuncture center.
  • They name their horses after dead American presidents.
  • They have an obsession for sculptures of naked women. You find them along the lake, in front of the Opera, and at the cemeteries.
  • There is, apparently, a big problem in Zurich with people taking saws into trams and trying to cut down seats.
  • The Swiss paint their houses in all sorts of colors. Sometimes to match the spring blossoms.
  • Other photographs don’t need comments.