More What Not to Do

"Here's looking at you, kid."

Have you noticed that Swiss sometimes seem to stare at you - with bug eyes? They can open their faces until their forehead wrinkles like an accordion and their eyes grow bigger than an Australian Maki. And suddenly time is suspended – they wait.

Why? Why are they waiting? I feel as if I'm being interrogated by the Gestapo.

Let me enlighten you:

  • Have you perhaps poured them a glass of beer or wine?
  • Or did you shake hands to greet them?
Our Swiss hosts are waiting for three things:
  1. For you to say cheers, welcome or hello.
  2. Followed by their name.
  3. And an endless stare into their eyes. Swiss have rules for everything, but I am unfamiliar with a "look me in the eye" time limit rule.

  1. Learn the names of the guests beforehand
  2. Greet them with, “Gruezi or Hoi Frau Name”.
  3. We foreigners do have an advantage. When I forget a name, I say: "Could you please say your name for me, it's hard for me to pronounce?" It’s a little awkward if she says something simple like Susanne Müller.
  4. I know the “game is over” when they shrink the size of their eyes to normal, give me back my hands or move their glass away. 
What not to do
But please don’t do what my husband does when he forgets a name and say "Hey du (you)."
Please never say, "Hoi Sie” (Informal/Formal mix-up).

"Good afternoon or good evening, please excuse me, I forgot your name," is widely accepted.

But please, open your eyes to your forehead, pronounce the name of your counterpart and wait until all features relax and return to their usual form before ending the exercise. Now you're safe. Well at least until it's time to leave, then the game begins again.  As you bid your goodbyes, goodnights, ciao, or aufwiederluaga, shake every hand, stare them down and say, Herr X.
Now I know why Swiss hold the table hostage until dawn - they want to be the last to leave because everyone has to come to them to bid their farewells – a couple of names at a time.
Until next time and more “what not to do’s” like don’t forget the Finken!
© Copyright Vicki Gabathuler, March 2017


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