Confused in Connecticut
Dear Confused in Connecticut,
There are a lot of things that are a bit strange about living in Switzerland. The Frau does not pretend to know all of them, but here are three strange Swissisms she either has some personal experience with or knows someone who did:
Flushing the toilet after 10 p.m. Forget Heidi, this is the real Swiss classic. The Frau does not believe this is an official Swiss law, but rather a clause that may be in your apartment rental contract. Many apartment buildings have strict quiet hours and these may include specific things a non-Swiss person may not typically associate with loud noise. Such as: not being allowed to flush a toilet after 10pm, not being allowed to do laundry on Sunday (or during the lunch hour—some buildings actually shut off electricity to the machines at this time...), or not being allowed to do gardening on Sunday.
Also on the quiet hour front: you can’t typically recycle glass bottles on weeknights or on Sundays without being yelled at for disturbing the peace. Never mind that yelling also disturbs the peace or the all night parties that go on right outside your window during Carnival or Badenfahrt…
Make sure you get a copy of your city’s garbage calendar and try to understand it (for help, read this). If you put your garbage out too early (or in the wrong bag, oh my!) you may be subject to a fine. A friend of the Frau was once called to the police station where she actually had to identify her trash. She was then charged CHF 250 because she had set it out too early the night before.
Recycling paper (see photo) is another strange Swiss ritual. You let the paper pile up for at least six weeks at your apartment and then ceremoniously tie it up with strings in neat packages no higher than about six inches before putting it outside. Don’t slack and just think it would be easier to stick all that paper in a paper box or bag and put outside. It would be easier, but this does not matter. If you don’t do it correctly, your paper will not be picked up and it will be plastered with a sticker stating your error. If you’re like The Frau, you’ll then be tempted to just throw it in your regular trash rather than wait another six weeks to redeem yourself.
Driving a car is expensive in Switzerland. If you go more than 5 kilometers over a speed limit, you’ll receive a CHF 40 fine in the mail for each offence. If you travel way, way over the speed limit, you will be charged a fine that’s a percentage of your salary.
Not paying the night ticket supplement
Typically beginning at 1 am, depending on the public transport network, you must buy a CHF 5 nighttime supplement in addition to your regular train ticket. If you don’t buy this and they check tickets, you will be fined as if you didn’t have a ticket at all.
Ok, the Frau has run out of energy. Anyone else have experience with some of these things or want to let Confused in Connecticut in on some additional Swiss laws or customs that are not fun to discover after the fact?