16 October 2012

Missing Switzerland

I've been away from Switzerland for 10 days now -- only my second trip back to the U.S. since moving to CH in 2010 -- and I'm a little surprised by what I'm missing, other than my sweet chérie.

I am NOT missing appetite-killing restaurant prices, nor my canton's trashy policy of requiring that we buy only the approved garbage bag for 2 francs each, nor the ... OK, well I can't exactly think of a third thing right now.

What I AM missing, besides Maïf, is, most of all, "Bonjour." In Switzerland, nearly every verbal interchange is preceded by "bonjour" or "grüezi" or "buongiorno," depending on where you are in the country. It is a courtesy, a civility, a verbal bow. If the whole world did this, there would be less war.

In the USA, even here in Hawai'i, people don't normally take that couple seconds to say "hello" or "aloha" before they begin whatever it is they want to say. Several times in the last few days in Honolulu elevators and shops, or on the bus, I've said hello to a stranger only to be greeted in return by silence or a grunt. They're not being rude; that's just their custom, and they're suspicious of a stranger being so friendly.

I can't help wishing they'd come to Switzerland, especially to our town, Neuchâtel, and fall in love with bonjour.

1 comment:

  1. Enjoyed this post. I too love the way the otherwise reticent Swiss ......passersby, bus drivers, shopkeepers …greets you with a bonjour or bonsoir and always ends an interaction with a bon journée or bon après midi or bon weekend etc. I thought it was a more French part of Switzerland thing but I see form your post that it seems to be the case everywhere. There is such a graciousness to this interaction.

    But as an aside I’ve found American people at least in smaller towns to be also fond of the good mornings and hey how you doing type of greetings as well.