Please take a shower before you go swimming


Photo from huffingtonpost.it (source: Instagram).

What a shame, little Switzerland!

The embarrassing sign, written by the manager of an apartment hotel in Arosa, inviting the “Jewish” guests to take shower before and after the swimming pool, is travelling with the news all over the world! And it even provoked official complaints from Israel.
The word “Jewish”, the specification of which Jewish persons are meant (really all, no distinction: women, men, children!) and the threatening order really sound discriminating, offensive, scary and racist.

It is too easy and late now, Ms Hotel Manager, to say that you carelessly didn’t choose the right words for your scary sign.
It would have been probably better just to say “sorry” to all the guests: Women, men, children… Jewish and not!

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Where the hell is my bus going?

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Last Tuesday, as usual, I took the bus 354 to go to work: just 7 minutes and 4 stops from home to the office.
So, why this post? Just to tell you about my morning bus ride to the office? It is not necessarily so amazing, isn’t it?

OK, let’s make it a little more exciting.
After the third stop, in Tiefenwaag, the bus should turn right and drive a 80 km/h road up to my office stop: Murzlen.

Guess what! The woman driver, after Tiefenwaag, turned left instead! And she was driving towards another totally unexpected direction.
I immediately thought: am I in some kind of movie like “Speed” or “The taking of Pelham 1 2 3”?
Of course in Switzerland not! I stood up and on the unstable catwalk of the bus floor, I run to the driver and asked her what was going on.
She just candidly replied: “Sorry, I was used to take this way, because normally I drive this route with another bus line! I will U-turn at the next roundabout and go back”.

Then I could just astonishingly go back to my seat, waiting for the driver’s blow of fate to go back to my…office bus stop.
This Confederation is very strange: the only country where the bus schedules are precise like chemical formulas, but the drivers are sometimes reliable like… you choose what!

Of women and men

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My name is Andrea.
When I arrived in Switzerland 13 years ago, I did not think that my name could have sounded so “unique” (I will explain you why) in this country.

In my class in the primary school, at a certain point, we were even 6 “Andrea”: the name Andrea was very common for the boys born in the seventies. The teachers didn’t dare to use our first name, they just switched to the family name.
So, although I like my name, I always thought it’s quite a common, maybe too common male name.
When I arrived in Switzerland, I suddenly became a woman!

Not so extremely! No operation, no change of sex!
It’s just that in Switzerland, and actually all over the world (except Italy), Andrea is a female name!!
Here in Switzerland, and in the German speaking countries, I should be AndreaS, with a final “s”.
When I started working here, the day before my start they put a nice tag with my name on my desk. All the colleagues (especially the men!) were quite happy and excited that they would have met their new colleague: a nice pretty Italian girl!
You can imagine their disappointment when they learnt, meeting me for the first time, that in Italy Andrea is a very common name, a very common – male – name!

When I receive a letter or an e-mail in Switzerland, they’re always addressed to a Ms Andrea…
When I receive a phone call from unknown people, it seems that they always would like to talk to my wife, my daughter, my mom: the Andrea they are looking for.
“May I speak to Ms Andrea…please?”. I reply “Speaking”. Then normally some seconds of shock, embarrassment, silence, weird mumbling follow. Yes, the woman you were looking for has a quite low voice, sounds quite annoyed and finally it’s a man!

When after a phone call or a personal meeting, they send me a letter or an e-mail, they are still addressed to a Ms Andrea…It’s stronger than them! If it’s Andrea, it’s a woman, even if they should know that it’s actually a man!!

But sometimes, being exchanged for a woman, has some advantages: people (especially men) are normally nicer and sweeter than needed when they think they are writing to a woman. Or is it just my idea?

That’s why the most of the people, even if they know that I’m a man, who is called AndreA, probably not to fight against their common knowledge (Andrea = woman!) call me “unbedingt” (absolutely) AndreaS, with the S at the end, which all the respectful German names shall have!