Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter and Swiss Neighbors

Some parts of Switzerland are a bit of a culture shock for a Texan. Like neighborly-ness. (Or maybe some of our neighbors just need a life...)

We bought our apartment a bit over a year ago, and we are the only non-Swiss family among the 5 apartments. Since then, have managed to - successfully - add on to the (previously inadequate) parking garage. It was quite a feat, this addition. Not structurally, but in getting the neighbors to agree on who should pony up and how much. Let's just say that I spent an unpleasant hour on the phone with Mr. Penthouse, who was lecturing me on my poor negotiation skills (though I'm sure that if I had agreed with him, my skills would have been exemplary). Mr. Penthouse also lectured me on neighborly-ness in Switzerland, or lack thereof. He seemed to think that I needed to know that his Swiss mother, after 25 years with the same next-door neighbor, received a formal notice one day about said neighbor's dissatisfaction with said mother's shoes in the hall. No friendly hello, no "would you mind...", but a formal complaint, lodged with the apartment board.

So now we have the war of the bicycles. Number 3 has two teenagers, and a vast array of toys - golf clubs, skis, mountain bikes, etc. In the new-and-improved garage, we will have a special place for mountain bikes, but that part has not yet been completed. So what to do? Number 3 placed two bikes at the base of the (circular) stairwell, well out of the way of anyone else. No sweat. Except for Number 4, who moved them to Number 3's garage space. Then Number 3 moved them back again, and then Number 4 moved them again - it became an amusing guessing game each time we left the apartment to see where the bicycles would end up. Then Number 3 chained them together at the bottom of the stairs... which slowed down the process somewhat.
Which led to the war of the parking inches. We came in late at night to find our space blocked by Number 4 (who was also blocking Number 3's space). We knocked on Number 4's door, who promptly came and moved his car. Seems Number 3's car was sticking out an inch or two...

So far we have tallied up one complaint (from Number 4) about walking with ski boots on the stairs. Now we know - boots in the boot room. No exceptions. So I was extremely paranoid about how we would hide eggs for Easter. With a meter of fresh snow outside, we couldn't really see how the Easter Bunny could manage, nor did it really work in the living room. So, David (aka Easter Bunny) hid the eggs in the entry way. As much as we tried, it was hard to keep the squeals to a minimum as our threesome ran around finding eggs. I can't tell you how relieved I was when I met Number 4 later in the day, and he asked if the children were here (!).

And as for neighborly-ness? We will continue to be Texan in all respects, in the näive hope that friendliness will breed friendliness, and that we will eventually become one happy family-of-five-families. I will distribute banana bread and chocolate chip cookies, and we will have people over for drinks (as we have already done). And tonight - we are invited to drinks with our neighbor!!! A breakthrough!

Happy Easter - and special thanks for good neighbors!

1 comment:

just me said...

You're such a good neighbor. Banana Bread and Cookies. You can come live next to us, then I would at least know one of our neighbors. Our dog has taken to trying to escape and at least our neighbors are friendly enough to let us know that she is trying to break down the fence (and suceeding).