Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A little hot (or cold) air

Has anyone else noticed the strange Swiss obsession with drafts? After three years in Switzerland, I am still trying to comprehend it all.

It starts in the morning. Should a window be open on a train, bus, tram or any other form of transport (no matter how hot it is), there will no doubt be a Swiss person visibly upset and searching high and low for the culprit window, which they will then slam shut.

But fifteen minutes later, this same Swiss person will walk into their office (no matter how cold it is) and proceed to open the window to “air out the room”, never mind if their American co-worker puts her winter coat back on.

During lunch or after a meeting, the office windows will again be flung wide open to “air things out.”

But don’t even think about a little breeze on the train ride home. Unless of course, you want this same Swiss person to come search you out, make some unidentifiable comment in Swiss German, and slam your window shut while ten minutes later, they’ll proceed to make their way home and open their window as wide as can be.

19 comments:

aurora said...

lol, yeah :) the drafts are not healthy they say :)

And “airing out the room” takes about 5 minutes. And with time you'll start doing it too :D

Chantal said...

You're right. All of these Swiss habits you pick up eventually. That's why I have to document them before it's too late.

juanitatortilla said...

Clever observation. I was the designated window closer during German classes after a 20min Pause, because I happen to sit near *that* particular window meant for "Ventilating". Dozen other windows, it had to be the one near me. How strategic.

Chantal said...

Yeah, I always seem to want a window open when a Swiss doesn't and vice versa. Strange.

mrsmac said...

I definitely noticed this one evening at a restaurant!

M'dame Jo said...

Well, Americans love the crazy air conditioning and live under a constant flow of 18°C recycled air all year round and Swiss people love to air things out, no matter the weather :-)

If it makes you feel better, I suffered from constant sniffling, stiff neck, dried eyes, otitis, and headaches because of the air conditioning in the US. I just don't know how you can stand that, it makes me so sick, you have no idea. I remember this assistant who added in fan blowing right into her face because it was "too hot" - the thermometer said 65F - it was not even warm outside - nice low 70s with a light breeze.

It cannot be crazier than airing things out, can it?

I will agree with you on one thing though: I don't get while there's always someone who will slam the bus/train window with such an exasperated look.

Here's my guess: some swiss like air, some don't, so it's not the same person who will air things out and shut the bus window. None of them would be able to stand american AC though, I'm quite sure about that.

Chantal said...

I have to say, I disagree with you that it cannot all be one Swiss person, because in writing this, I had one certain person in mind who does all of these things.

But I do agree, after living here for three years, that the American use of A/C is ridiculous and wasteful. Who wants to work in an office and have to wear a sweater in the summer?

M'dame Jo said...

Then this person's weird! See me, for example, I'm the swiss type that open all the windows in the train AND at home. I like fresh air in a coherent way ;-)

In my experience, the person slamming the bus window is always some grumpy old person. But sadly, it's becoming rare, most windows are now sealed... and AC's on.

*Sniffles*

Chantal said...

I love fresh air so I'm right there with you. Except with it's 5 degrees...

M'dame Jo said...

Come ooooon! Freezing's so invigorating!

More seriously, if it's 5°, I'll just open a minute or two, it feels so much better afterwards... but I'll ask my coworker before doing so.

Stephersplatz said...

This is so true!
I'm the only American in an office of Swiss people. They're constantly opening and closing the windows.
This week I was at an offsite training and everyday without fail before a coffee break the widows were opened to "let in some fresh air" and when we got back they were closed because it was "too cold." This went on about the same time every day for 3 days. :-)

Chantal said...

Glad I'm not the only one!

Bethy{aka}lilsis said...

Yeah... I am a crazy American who loves the a/c but... I live in Texas where it's always hot. And even though I was born here- I do not like heat ever. I am more allergic to what's outside than in- though if the weather is gray and damp I am out in it! That's my kinda day :-D

Michemily said...

I've noticed it as well in Germany. They're always saying the air is thick and the window should be open, then they turn around and tell me that the same air will make me sick if my hair is wet or I'm not wearing a scarf.

Chantal said...

I wonder if it's only a German-speaker thing or if this also happens in the Suisse/Svizzera regions.

M'dame Jo said...

I'd say it's a european thing.

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