Thursday, February 19, 2015

Fixing the furnace. A multicultural story.

The first time a radiator repairman came to The Frau’s small Swiss apartment, he shook The Frau’s hand, introduced himself, and then proceeded to take off his shoes.

A lot of hot air.
You need it in Chicago this winter.
The Frau thought this was both overly formal and overly informal at the same time. Herr Schumann, someone she just met two seconds ago, was walking around her apartment in his socks. It’s not like they were on a first-name basis or anything. So, sorry, yodelers, but as a newly expatriated American, she found the whole situation kind of gross. 

Well, fast-forward almost a decade and The Frau found herself letting two furnace repairmen into her big, fat American house. And you know what? She was offended. First of all, they didn’t introduce themselves. Or shake her hand. And then, they slogged up the wooden staircase in their snowy boots.

At this point The Frau was not only wishing for heat during a -10 Celsius Chicago winter. She was also wishing for a little shoe removal action.

But no. Up and down and out the door and back went the repairmen in their big, snowy boots. They were very friendly, just not very Swiss. Not that you can blame them, since Chicago is, after all, not Switzerland.

The Frau thought about asking them to take off their shoes. But this felt so un-American and she’s trying hard to be American these days so she said nothing.

Anyway, when they left The Frau’s house, she happily had heat. But she also had ten minutes of floor cleaning to do too. Which, when you’ve just spent $500, isn’t exactly an added bonus.

Shameless self-promotion section: if you enjoy little stories like these, you may enjoy The Frau’s book, Swiss Life: 30 Things I Wish I’d Known. It’s now available via Bergli Books in Basel as well. 

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

O M G!

I just had this experience today and was trying to talk myself out of hating the repair guy! W TF? he tracks all that salt melting snow all over my house and doesn' even bother to introduce himself properly?!?

Luckily for me, I am gearing up for a move to Geneva after a number of years living "at home" in the US following a 5 year expat assignment in BE/FR.

Gotta focus on the positive, not how crazily expen$ive it is, but the civilization that can be had in Europe. Love your blog, repat is hard, bon courage! LA

Anonymous said...

merci d'avance for tous! LA

Chantal said...

The Frau is happy to hear she is not alone in her repairmen regrets!

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