When I moved to Switzerland, I started noticing many little things that were totally different or unexpected compared to life in nearby Italy.
The first big shock arrived when I tried going to a tanning salon, which is called "Solarium". While I don’t do it very often, I was in serious need of some color before a big wedding.
Your usual Italian tanning salon has many cubicles with different kind of beds/showers, and some very nice girl or guy guiding you to the nearest available tanning bed whilst offering you coffee and some small talk while your wait for your turn.
So I found a tanning salon next to my house in Lugano, and I entered it.
Tanning beds and showers, brochures, posters, a nice and cozy waiting room with magazines, a dispenser that sells lotions and glasses. Open from 7 AM until 10 PM.
Just like Italy, except for one tiny difference: There is no personnel.
As it turns out, almost every tanning salon in Ticino is self-service. I had never heard of such a thing before in my life. I never even thought it would exist!
Tanning beds are coin-operated: The more money you pop in, the longer your session will be. There are paper towels and cleaning sprays in the booth and you are required to clean after yourself and leave a perfect tanning bed for the person coming after you - and everyone does so.
The entire place relies on other people’s manners and sense of duty to keeping it clean and tidy - and it works perfectly! I went through the whole tanning bed experience with a look of shock on my face, and I am sure that other Swiss costumers looked at me like some kind of weirdo...
If you moved this little corner of self tanning paradise to Italy, you would end up with people lounging in the waiting area all day long, with your magazines gone, your walls scribbled with graffiti and, well, probably even your chairs and your tanning beds stolen! Even with security cameras in place.
Wow, I had no idea!! Ditto on if this tanning salon was moved to America.
Good to know if I ever find myself in need of a tan. I would have been just as befuddled as you, no doubt. Thank you for the article. Very interesting piece that perfectly reflects Swiss culture.
This would absolutely never work in America. The Swiss are superior when it comes to manners, cleanliness, maturity, and of course honesty.