Sunday, July 3, 2016

Walking the Thin Blue Line

First, let me say that no matter how cool it may have seemed in "How I Met Your Mother," living above a bar is not cool.  The bar is never filled with sexy, fun, classy people like these:
Will never be patrons of the bar downstairs.
This is more like the bloke you can hear taking a whiz in the back alley:
Not winning Mr. Switzerland this year.
And of course he brought all 35 of his screaming bros with him to do shots of Jäger in the street and take turns punching each other in the groin.  Cause you know...it's Wednesday.

Learning to play nice in a new country can be a challenge if you don't know the rules of the game. The notion of when it is necessary to call the police is definitely one that takes a few tries to get right, especially as an Ausländer.  In the US, I think I called the police maybe a handful of times - mostly as a witness to car accidents.  So when I started having problems with the bar downstairs blasting Lou Reed at 2am (and I love me some Lou), I was reluctant to call the police for noise.  The truth is, in Switzerland, people call the police for what seems like everything:

Saw an unattended dog sitting in the park?  Call the police.  
Kid throwing snowballs at your car?  Call the police.
Neighbor mowing their lawn on Sunday?  Call the police.
Not sure the man walking with his child in the woods is actually the father? You get the picture.

It may seem excessive, and to a certain extent, it is a bit, but it is important.  With so many people living so close to one another, keeping the peace is a priority (this is also, I suspect, why there is such attention paid to being rule abiding).  In a way, it is actually nice; hand the problem over to the police - no longer my circus, no longer my monkeys.

In fact, we had lived in the same apartment for 2 years and got on great with the original owner of the bar.  She's lovely person.  Her irksome son who took over after her retirement is...well... just a schmuck.  Yes, they exist here too.  The exist everywhere.

I tried to do the "American thing": I explained the situation to and hoped that having a chat with the neighbors would lead to a compromise.

This didn't just fail horribly - it exploded.  In fact, the conversation with the low-budget Sunday-morning-after  Jack Sparrow downstairs ended with him telling me that if I didn't like it, I could go back to the USA...

Any of you who know me personally are sucking in through your teeth after reading that last sentence.  Game on, Jack.

I needed cultural support, so I asked some of my Swiss friends what they recommended.  ALL of them actually gave me the "Oh honey..." look of amusement/pity and explained that that was just a bit too much sugar for the situation.  It was going to take a call to the Boys in Blue (or black rather).

So that's just what we did.  Every night.  For a month and a half.  Until the police suggested that we go even deeper, stop calling them every night, and helped us make an appointment with the Gewerbepolizistin (police that handle matters related to businesses).

End score: sad pirate barkeep, happy Gina.

I'll just pretend the sound of splashing in the alley is a gentle rainstorm...