Did you know that a cup of coffee is 20 cents cheaper at Café Müller compared to Café Meier?
What may sound absurd at first is a regular conversation topic among Swiss. I have heard it before, and maybe you have, too. The point is that the Swiss talk about money, but they do not talk about their salary.
The following is a translation of an opinion piece by Salome Müller about the Swiss and their ironic relationship with money.
Meet Mr. and Mrs. Switzerland, your regular Swiss couple who works regular hours from 8 AM to 5 PM. They are considered valuable, disciplined and modest employees. Every month, their paychecks go into the vacation fund for the five weeks their employers grant them off every year.
The couple is certainly not the complaining kind. When it came to the initiative demanding six weeks of paid vacation for all Swiss, they voted against it. After all, when everyone is on vacation all the time, who is supposed to look after the economy and protect our living standards?
Our Swiss couple never talks about their salary.
It is possible that Mr. Switzerland once complained about it behind closed doors, but they never bring it up among friends. “It only leads to misunderstandings,” she said. Her husband agreed: “There are too many haters out there and I swear that our neighbor earns way more, given his fancy car.”
Instead, the couple would eat leftovers at the office twice a week. Their belief is that every saved franc is one franc more towards their next vacation. Once at the beach, it is full relaxation for Mr. and Mrs. Switzerland. (They even spoil themselves with an adult beverage in the morning.)
After two weeks, they return home where they cannot stop talking about their trip: The weather was great, the food was amazing, and the people were so nice. And most of all, everything was so cheap: The flight! The hotel! The restaurants! The rental car! Even the medications and the leather shoes – everything was incredibly cheap.
They could barely grasp how cheap everything was, and they had to repeat it over and over. Their families had to listen to it, and their friends, too. Even acquaintances they ran into, the car mechanic and the sales person at the pharmacy.
The couple has hardly ever been so enthusiastic about a topic. Their stories were contagious to the point that others started sharing their low budget vacation memories. In the end, everyone was talking about money – but they would never dream of revealing their salaries.
Was this caricature too harsh? Or right on the “money”? Let us know in the comments.
(Inspired by an opinion piece from Salome Müller in tagesanzeiger.ch, published with the original authors permission.)