Monday, November 16, 2015

Missing the pristine

One of the things The Frau loves most about Switzerland is hiking. The paths are plentiful (60,000 km +) and pristine, and The Frau’s most recent experience last month demonstrates just how pristine.
path at 10:30 a.m.

To the right is a picture of the path to the Majingsee (near Leukerbad) around 10:30 a.m.

path at 3 p.m.
And to the left is a picture of that same path around 3 p.m. Yes. Heaven forbid a few fall leaves cover the path, but the leaf blower was doing his job in the middle of the Alps on a Monday. It seems excessive, this Swiss version of care, and yet when you get used to it and then don’t have it anymore, you miss it intensely.

The Salt Creek Trail, a trail in the Chicago suburbs where The Frau likes to inline skate, has been covered in leaves for the last few weeks, meaning she can no longer skate on the trail. And last year, the La Grange Park District just couldn't seem to put in the effort to make their outdoor ice rink useable even one time during the winter. It’s times like these when she really misses Switzerland. 

In fact, it doesn’t take much to feel like you’re living in a third world country after Switzerland. The Frau swims at the local high school pool in her American suburb and they’ve cleaned it once in the last year. Once. Someone in The Frau’s swim group told her  that sometimes the Department of Health shows up and closes the pool down. Even the air vents in the room are so filthy that one of the swimmers with asthma can no longer swim because of the room’s air quality.

This makes The Frau wonder—why? Why can’t a school pool that’s in a wealthy suburb, for which she pays the equivalent Swiss price to use (and for worse hours and service) not be regularly cleaned? It’s in a school! Is care and cleanliness in America too much to ask anymore?

Some might say the problem is money, but The Frau pays more in American taxes than she ever did in Swiss taxes. As she reads more and more books on political issues (Elizabeth's Warren's A Fighting Chance is a great one), it’s clear that while the average American taxpayer pays more and more, they get less and less for that honor. In the meantime, the billionaires are building their own pools in their backyards while the rest of us have access to a dirty pool twice a week for 1.5 hours beginning at 5:30 a.m. If that’s not inequality in America, The Frau doesn’t know what is.


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