Friday, January 16, 2015

Abmeldung, quick and painless.

When it is time to 'de-register' from life in La Suisse, then one must go directly to the Stadthaus/City Hall and not to the Kreisbüro as I had originally thought.  Had I actually read the print on the small 'district ID' that comes with living in a particular area, then I would have known.  It states clearly that one must visit the Stadthaus for 'de-registration'.  What could be clearer?  Once at the Stadthaus, proceed directly to the windows marked 'Abmeldung'.  They are located on the ground floor to the right of the entrance.  There one may encounter orderly lines or a cluster of people all jockeying for position.  Do not be deterred.  Have both the Kreisbüro ID and formal ID at the ready.  Once processed, one is sent to a tax office.  All unpaid taxes must then be paid.  After that, one returns to the initial intake person, for what exactly I don't know, then one is sent to the final office.  It is there one receives the very important piece of paper showing one is to leave CH.  With this paper, and, I am told, this paper alone, one is able to cancel insurance policies, phone contracts, etc.

The whole affair lasted around 20 minutes.  We were dealt with in a professional and courteous manner.  It's not easy shutting one's life down and moving country.  At least the process of 'de-registration' was easy-peasy.

Stadthaus, ZH

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Mistakes were made.

Ich: 'Entschuldigung. Ich habe mich getäuscht'.  I'm sorry. I made a mistake/I was wrong.
Sie: 'So ist das. Die Deutschen täuschen sich oft.' That's how it is.  Germans often make mistakes/are wrong.

I'd say homegirl made a mistake as I am not German.  I always find it interesting when Swiss Germans think I'm German.  I don't flatter myself by thinking that my German is so stellar that I can pass for a native speaker.  It would seem that some Swiss Germans don't have much contact, I guess, with actual native German speakers from north of the border, so that they confuse me for one.  It's either that or they must think I'm from some part of Germany where people make a lot grammatical errors and have a funny accent.  Where would that be?  Fehlerstadt?   In the land of Amistein? 

I thought her response to my admitting fault humourous.  What prompted the above short exchange is not so funny, however.  Toward the end of my shift today at the Chleider-Lädeli a couple of very intoxicated women came in to look for winter garments and sleeping-bags.  The two were a bit volatile and, truly, did not give a fuck.  My co-worker and I thought it best to let them browse on their own and we returned to unpacking the mound of donations piled high in the middle of the floor.  At one point one of the women came to me and asked if she could take a wheelie bag for shopping that she'd found.  I had mistakenly thought that the bag was part of the mound of donations and gave her the affirmative.  Some time later I returned from taking out the trash to find a bundled-up, bespectacled, older woman, head covered in a scarf, crying by the front door.  Beyond her I could see one of the drunk ladies yelling that the wheelie bag was HERS and that this woman had tried to take it from her.  Instantly, I knew I that that bag belonged to the woman with the head scarf and that I had made a mistake.  Trying to rectify the situation, I told the Swiss woman that she could not have the bag as it belonged to the other woman.  'NO! It's MINE!' came the response.  As I tried to shepherd out the woman with her wheelie bag the outraged, intoxicated woman thought it best to stop us.  Getting as close as she could to the crying woman, for I was standing between them with one arm raised in order to block the interaction, she began to rant.  That only produced more tears from wheelie-bag woman.  I then called for back-up from the main office.  Help came promptly and the irate woman was made to go outside and 'talk it out'.  Before talking came yelling and, occasionally, pounding on the glass door to be let back in.  All the while the woman whose bag it was sat and quietly cried.  I patted her back gently and told her that it would be all right.  I don't think that she believed me.  Worse for her is that she is one of a few clients who don't speak German and there was no one in the shop at the time who could speak with her.  I switched from German to English, as I do when I am stressed, and kept repeating 'it's going to be all right'.  It probably did me more good than her.  Poor thing.

In the end, all was all right.  The woman left with her wheelie bag after the Swiss woman was made to apologise.  A co-worker sat with her at the bus stop while she waited for the no. 33 to take her home. 

Monday, January 5, 2015

First dishware: Fairlawn.

When I moved out of the house at age 18 in '88, a neighbour and family friend, Barbara, gave me her very incomplete set of dishware to help start me on my way.  I really liked the plate design and was happy to take the small bundle of plates, cups and bowls with me to my new apartment.  Barbara told me that the set had been given to her as a wedding present in 1959.  I imagine that her two boys and gosh knows all what else over the decades had decimated her bounty to these 8, or so, pieces that she was now giving me.  I have held onto them through numerous living arrangements with friends, strangers, lovers and husbands.  A few pieces have broken along the way and I've also been able to add to the rag-tag collection since acquiring.  I now have a bit more Fairlawn than when I began, but not without some cost.  Who knew that the darn stuff would become 'collectable'? 

In the ensuing years I have filled the cupboards with even more with dishware.  Twelve years ago, I inherited the family china, also an incomplete set, and, four years back, I picked up a shed load of Danish stoneware for a song at a charity shop.

Fairlawn pattern by Stangl, New Jersey

It's now time to move back home to where both I and Fairlawn began, so our time in Zürich is fast drawing to a close.  I'm currently having a heck of a time trying to 'downsize' our mess to make the move more manageable.  Does the Fairlawn go or does it stay?  As I type this I think I might already know the answer.