Posts Tagged ‘swiss’

Pearls in the Sludge

August 30, 2014

It’s not easy to write about the Swiss. Like all other people on the face of earth they don’t like to be seen the way they are, but they do impose on any casual observer amongst their midst a particularly elaborate if not mysterious labyrinth of rules meant to safeguard their privacy. Names are not to be mentioned, personal things are not to be shown, flaws are not to be revealed and any hint of imperfection is to be strictly avoided. With their fragile but stubborn and unwavering self-esteem they place themselves at the absolute top of the world and everybody else is in their eyes of a distinctly lower rank. To them begins a world of chaos right outside the borders of their miniscule homeland that neatly spreads around the flanks descending from the mighty mountain ranges of the central European Alps. There beyond the reach of their territorial claims people who just don’t seem to get it live in a state of barbarian lawlessness. The Swiss do demand an awful lot of themselves, subjecting themselves to the most rigorous work ethic in the world, and they can rightfully be proud of having lifted themselves out of an economic doom by their very own bootstraps, once the fallout from those two great wars in the first half of the previous century had settled. They managed to transform their lean and backward-looking agrarian state within barely seventy years into a hyper-modern society at the very climax of material consumption. This supersonic flight to the peak of human civilization carried its price, and the Swiss’ proud sense of self is haunted by fragility, constantly undermined by a collective nightmare, where those hordes of barbarians breach the well-built borders, come to storm their fortress of righteousness and begin to plunder each and every one of their hard earned riches.

Living as a foreigner amongst them you constantly have to prove yourself and demonstrate that you are worth their while. Only if you surpass their eagerness to sacrifice your whole being to the work at hand, and the more brute the work the better, will you be accepted into their ranks. Having returned from thirty years of life out there amongst the barbarians I’m only just a small notch above the giant flock of economic refugees that have flooded this little country over that last couple decades. While wading amongst them I am of course privileged by birth. But still I’m being watched, judged and measured up. Do I still have what it takes to be a Swiss?

The last three weeks have been intense, jumping into the full-blown rat race with only just barely the needed preparation. Tasks too complex to handle have ended up in humiliating defeats, where fellow workers had to put in extra shifts to make up for my shortcomings. The colossal system of global commerce does not wait or pause for debutants. Persistence though always prevails and after three or four days the learning had kicked in and brought me to a level of acceptable performance. Adrenaline was essential, raging anger impossible to avoid. While mutating to the ranks of the working class, deep down in the wrenching guts of this maniac material consumption, I chanced upon a handful of sparkling jewels emerging from the sludge, which after some wiping and polishing happen to reflect upon a set of crucial human interactions. Let me pass two of those on to you!

 

My Back

I remember the four packages from the morning. Two feet by two feet square and about half of one deep. They are for an upper end furniture store next to the big shopping mall. And they are heavy. I also remember the loud rumble in the back of the truck earlier in the morning while accelerating up the hill to deliver the slender and plastic wrapped box with a high fashion designer label to the lipstick-clad and diamond earring-laced lady in the ostentatious house overlooking the town. My carefully constructed order in the delivery sequence of the cardboard boxes had crumbled in an instant.

I’m maneuvering the truck in reverse to bring the stern doors to the delivery gate of the store. I know I’ll have to dig those four packages out from underneath a heap of others. To my left a fancy grey car pulls up letting me know that I’m in someone’s way. Two ladies, obviously also from somewhere up the there on the sunny hills of town, stare at me sternly. I am in their way! I look around along the nose of my truck to the right where there’s a row of free parking spaces. There is plenty of space for the ladies to maneuver around me so I make a corresponding gesture towards them and refocus on my chores. After all I’m way behind schedule and suffering from a good dose of stress.

While I go and look for a suitable human presence amongst the racks of the storage room the two ladies have figured out what to do with their valuable vehicle and appear on foot next to my truck at the gate. A quick greeting is thrown their way. I swing my yellow back doors wide open and disappear into the belly of the truck, where I start digging. It’s been in general a rough and tumble day so far, my second day on the tour, where every single delivery is a labyrinth of obstacles. My mood is not on the upper side of things.

I discover the four packs under the rumble and bend my back across the ridge of cardboard before me to lift the first one out. With a guttural sigh worthy of a kung-fu flick I throw it towards the open doors in the back where it lands with a resounding bang. Out of the corner of my eye I see the younger lady’s eyes gaping wide open and her nose flanks rippling. “But it says fragile on it”, she exclaims. I calmly lift up the second pack of the four and throw it back towards her so that it lands with exactly the same kind of bang. “Well, so is my back”, I hiss in her direction, “my back is also fragile, but about that one nobody seems to care.” I hold my task in theatrical suspense for a second and stare into her artfully lined and shaded eyes, sending a clinch of my right eye in her direction to let her know that my emotions are controlled and my anger played. She understands and I’m rewarded with a half-hearted smile. The third and fourth package I set them gently on the pile, jump out of the truck and transfer the bunch onto a pallet on the side of the storage space. By this time the warehouse clerk has made his way towards us and I ask him if that’s okay as a temporary resting place for the delivery while I have him sign the scanner to confirm the reception of the lot. “And why don’t you help those charming ladies first?”, I continue with heightened charm of my own, “They seem to be in an awful rush!”

 

My Fingers

A week and a half earlier in the midday heat of downtown Basel I had just done a sharp right turn into a small alley, and with a second one had bumped my truck on its jumpy tires up onto the shady sidewalk. I turned the ignition off. It was only an envelope. No sweat involved! Three deliveries ago I had already put it on the seat next to me in the cabin. My mind had accepted it into the privileged area of its clearly structured attention span.

But it was no ordinary envelope. It showed off a sharp and bright color scheme, very crisp lettering subtly enhanced the prominent business logo and the design exhumed that despicable corporate attitude of always having to loudly demonstrate one’s own superiority. Its importance felt imposed, its style not very condescending. There was no room left for doubt. And it had a sticker on it. On a glaring pink background the numbers 12:00 stood printed as if etched in stone. This envelope had to be delivered before noon. All else could wait; we had been given strict instructions during our training.

I glanced at the clock. 11:48. The deadline was fast approaching. The entrance to the building was about thirty steps away from where I had parked. A curved row of lightly tinted glass doors and panels kept curious eyes at bay, but still from my position in the cabin I was able to confirm that the receptionist sat at her usual place pretending to look busy. The handover of the document was at most a couple minutes away. The half-eaten sandwich of my lunch had likewise come to rest on the seat next to me, and it now stubbornly pushed its way into my awareness. There was time to take another bite! Like the four previous days, it had become clear that there was going to be no time for a proper lunch break. If I had any aspiration at all to complete the day’s heap of packages behind me begging to be delivered to its intended owners, I had to work straight through.

When you’re stressed out and hungry, food can be a truly primordial experience, and I dug my teeth deep into the juicy and very skillfully prepared delicacy. Creamy mayonnaise flooded my taste buds, crunchy lettuce crumbled in between, while morsels of dark rye bread sponged up more of that sweet tomato nectar, heavenly exquisite! A quick wipe of the mouth with the back of my hand later I grabbed the envelope and jumped out of the driver’s seat down onto the sidewalk, slamed the door and started the sprint towards the middle glass door. I was doing the courier’s walk. This is a very specific gait, not running, no, never, but definitely faster than any other kind of walking, and it does increase your delivery speed! The sensors at the door were programed for less energetic forms of locomotion and I stopped sharply to let the automatic door react before my nose crashed into the glass. ‘Good day to you all!’, I exclaimed with my most resounding voice and entered the hall, where I made my way straight towards the reception desk.

There were few signs of life left in her eyes, but the slim lady at the desk handled the handover of the document flawlessly, having executed the same transaction most probably millions of times before in her professional career. She turned the envelope over in her frail hands and quenched something like: ‘I need to make sure this is for us!’ through her tight lips. ‘I’m pretty sure it is!’, I replied smartly and handed her my scanner with one hand and the waiting stylus with the other. This movement had cost me lot to master. In the beginning when I was learning this trade I had offered those two items in the most awkward fashion so that every receiving person had to manhandle them through some serious special contortions before being able to confirm the reception by scribbling their signature onto the little screen. But I was aware that here I was confronted with a situation that required the ultimate application of style. And the movement did execute beautifully. The receptionist looked at the utensils that had been presented to her with such highly polished elegance, and she looked at them for a good long while. After which she looked at them still and finally, as if waking from Rapunzel’s slumber she directed her gaze towards a nicely decorated box of hand towels sitting on the counter towards the back of the room. She strove towards them, ripped a towel out of it in a fit of exaggerated demonstration, and returned to her duty equipped with the perfect antidote to everything uncleanly.

Her facial expression had changed, her pale cheeks sagging. Utter disgust was written across her face in bold capital letters. She gingerly grabbed the stylus with a groove she had carefully made in her handkerchief, and with an epileptic series of nervous jerks she jotted down her signature.

Her slender hands once more flowed in graceful action. Having absorbed their beauty my gaze wandered across the rugged plastic surface of the scanning device and onto my own hand holding it steady against the countertop. There is no civilized way to describe what I had to witness there in front of my eyes. There was a tar grey coating of encrusted dirt all over my hands, the wrinkles in my fingers darkened like the net of a drunken spider, the fingernails framed by a black rim fit for a funeral, the crooked groove of the destiny line inside my palm filled with somber sediment, and, and this was the hardest thing to swallow, specs of shiny white droplets of soiled mayonnaise interspersed with miniature crumbs of whole meal sandwich bread squashed in a transparent plaster of some other greasy thing lined the outside of my index finger.

I clearly had fallen to the lowest of the low. At the very least my grooming level had. Bodily neglect like nothing else throws you down the rungs of social status in a fast free falling. My self-esteem shivered for an instant and threatened to disintegrate. But my always helpful mind was already looking for a way out, a way to survive the assault of this clear demonstration of class.

A smirk appeared, first as a twitching of the Zygomaticus major in my cheeks, pulling my tight lips out into a smile, then as a rush of adrenaline and a burst of joy that welled up through my body. ‘You handled this situation really well,’ I calmly told the lady while looking her sternly in the eyes, ‘very well indeed!’ Her cold clear pupils contracted slightly, like those of a tiger calmly locking its full attention onto the prey. Her glossy, blood red lipstick caved inwards like melting wax on a burning candle. But it was the slight trembling in her hand as she returned the stylus to me that gave it away: She was aware that I was pulling her leg! Human contact had been established beyond the realm of shame!

I could have been proud of my ability to turn this desperate situation around and transform it into an opportunity, but there was not time for that. A rumble tumble of packages waited in the back of my truck, anxious to be delivered in due time. And anyway, I would have had to admit, that all this had happened very much despite of myself, not because I had willingly planned or controlled it. It had simply happened because I had let go of the standard framework of restricted behavior. Stepping even further back and looking at it with a mind of absolute clarity, where things reveal themselves as obvious, I realized that it had all happened because… simply because of my very dirty fingers!

Swiss Swear Slurs

June 29, 2014

I’m pretty sure it has happened to you in one of your weaker moments. To impress a brand new acquaintance with acceptable curves who babbles at you in a foreign language, or to hack your fast way into the picking order of peer pressure at some late night bar in an exotic city, you ask your opponents to teach you the major swear words in their language, just so that you don’t appear too educated when overcome with the sudden premonition of becoming marginalized as a downright snob. You’re aware that you’re falling prey to a very cheap trick and that there are better ways to practice and exercise your cultural sensitivity. But you do it anyway as if a dark force with a vulgar but irresistible gravitational pull has gotten the better of you. Well let me tell you that you’re not alone and you’re in very good company. The immigrant workers of Switzerland, the Turks, the Italians and the ‘Yugos’, they all have not only learned to live orderly like the Swiss, show up on time and greet with a hearty voice and a stern look into the recipient’s eyes, they also have mastered the elaborate art of Swiss swear words. While even after decades of cultural absorption they still struggle with the subtleties of the complex grammar of Schwiizerdütsch, they have adopted the vast vernacular vocabulary of their new homeland and execute it with perfect pitch and pronunciation.

The Swiss live cleanly at the forefront of modern day wired and virtual consumption. Their shopping temples are equipped with every imaginable technocratic product in multiple incarnations and lure you into the sublime and celebrated state of material bliss, where the proverbial freedom of choice, credo non plus ultra of the modern day consumer, reveals its true face as a senseless confusion of choice, which makes you linger amongst the overwhelming display of merchandise way longer than you had ever intended. When it comes to swearing though, even the most up-to-date denizen of the urban wasteland reveals itself as a down and dirty farm boy with thick coats of cow dung falling off his boots at each and every step. Let me take you on a short linguistic research expedition into the flowery landscape of Swiss swear words.

The second trainer in my short and furious career as a DHL delivery driver in northern Switzerland comes from a little village in the bone-dry Turkish hinterlands. So remote from all civilization was his native hamlet that his birth certificate shaves a full year and a half off his true age. So long did it take his family to register his birth, to them a most cumbersome bureaucratic endeavor, which implied a strenuous journey across jagged mountain ridges and crocked crevices towards the nearest township. Infant mortality was rampantly high out in the solitary countryside and it was an efficient use of their time to wait until they could be reasonably certain that the new member of their tribe had a sufficient foothold on life before making the timely and costly investment of obeying the mandates of officialdom.

Erkom is his exotic sounding name and he now sits straight-backed behind the steering wheel of the roomy Volkswagen Transporter in flashy yellow color, just a minute or two after showing me the latest secret entry into the backdoors of a giant industrial complex in the eastern suburbs of Basel. Time is tight. We’re not yet half way through the jam-packed maze of cardboard boxes behind our backs and we’re speeding down a tight city street, when a shiny black sedan pulls out of a parking spot in front of us, only one hand of the female driver on that vehicle’s steering wheel, while the other one presses a smart phone to her ear. Erkan steps on the breaks and a tumble rumbles from the loading deck behind us, letting us know that the carefully stacked delivery order of our packages has just been destroyed by rapid deceleration. “Dummi Chue!”, exclaims Erkan raising his right hand Italian style towards the hot blue summer sky. ‘Stupid cow’ is the literal translation of this exclamation, and I’m starting at the decent end of things here. Declaring that heavy-set horned grazers and milk producing ruminants of dubious intelligence are now roaming the city streets, my co-worker obviously vents his frustration that not everybody participates in the high adrenaline rush of the post-industrial rat race, but he also incurs in the age old but ever futile effort of the human being to ascertain his intellectual superiority over the animals he managed to subdue into serving him for the pressing domestic needs while escaping the precarious existence of the nomadic hunter gatherer. From here it’s a down hill slope until it all bottoms out where there exist no more ups and downs.

The next obstacle in our hectic run through the busy city streets gets called an ‘Arschloch’, which simply refers to the bitter end of our digestive tract, also in English a well-loved term we use all too often to slap on things or beings we don’t reach very well with our understanding. And of course once the cat is out of the bag there is no holding back with our collective anal fixation. The next mishap happens to be called ‘Schiisdräck’, which is the stinky substance that comes out of the ‘Arschloch’, and where all this is deposed also becomes an exclamation if things go awry, as they unfortunately do quite often: ‘Scheisse!’, Erkan shouts after having taken a wrong turn that adds two minutes to our itinerary. Literally he means that emotionally he feels trapped inside a toilet bowl. Strangely enough this term is generally pronounced in its High German form even in the common dialect, as if calling one’s misfortune with Teutonic emphasis elevates one’s magic powers!

To bring a fitting end to this linguistic mudslinging fury of very vulgar proportion we have to land once more in the stinky end product itself, but this time the one of our milk producing servants: ‘Mischt,’ exclaims Erkan after our meeting with the feeder truck, with honest repulsion written all over his unshaven face, ‘iitz het üs doch dä blööd Schoofseckel wider zwöi Päckli mitgäh wo Gopfertami nid uf öisere Huerä Rutä si!’ On American TV this would have to be translated as: Beep! Now this beep beep gave us again two little packets that beep are not on our beep route! On the other hand a liberal interpretation in British English goes something like this: I don’t fancy it at all mate, but this rubbish of a bloke has again given us two packages that are bloody not on our blinking route! The truth is that my good friend Erkan in his verbal tirade has touched on all of the fundamental semantic pillars of swearing. We’ve already covered the fascination with fecal matter, but just to make things clear, he starts out with the Swiss German term for ‘cow dung mixed with straw to be used as a fertilizer on the fields’, to verbally underscore his disgust. Then he returns to our initially mentioned belittling of human nature by defining it equivalent to one of our domestic animals, but doubling it up with our impulsive attraction to the genitalia. ‘Schoofseckel’ means the testes of a sheep, and this term is used generally for talking about third persons we deem guilty of minor misdemeanors. The Swiss, like the New Zealanders on the opposite face of the earth were and still are skillful breeders of sheep and put their many products to excellent use. Now if those sheep would not be ‘blööd’, which is yet another word for stupid, we would quite obviously not have been able to herd them into our stables and rob them of their clothing periodically once or twice a year. By calling those innocent beings with their life force diluted by very selective breeding stupid we might be reflecting only on our own coefficient of intelligence.

Next in our juicy sample sentence religion is pulled into the mix, with the Swiss version of the hearty goddamn, where the speaker wishes the rage of the creator upon him or her self but then lets that wishing bounce off his or her shoulders and throws it right back onto the adversity itself as if clearing throat by spitting into the face of any and all offending issue. Somewhere between religion and the genitalia, or half way between god and sex, there lives the bipolar realm of prostitution, another emotionally charged grey area with magical powers if properly called upon. It is evoked a million times in the life of every German Swiss. ‘Huarä’, or ‘like a whore’ is put before any word that needs a special emphasis, just as ‘fuck’ and ‘fucking’ is in English of all class and creed all over the world.

There’s much more to the naughty vocabulary of the diligent Swiss, but I have to cut our sampling short way before the collection nears completion. Because I’m doing grave injustice to my pal and tutor in the art of worldwide package delivery. Erkan is a noble soul, in spite of his rocky verbal skills. His swearing is always done with a joyful undertone; irony and wit are right in tow. Nothing remains from the raving bitterness and crooked righteousness of many of his hosts from whom he has after all learned the precise pronunciation of all those verbs of power, exclaimed most of the times in high hopes of being able to right the many wrongs in our daily struggles against the odds of destiny.

Mr. Marx’ and Mr. Engel’s Nightmare

June 22, 2014

You guessed it! Whenever I don’t have time to write it’s because life has grabbed me by the neck and thrown me into a turmoil of things so new and throbbingly fresh that there is no chance to sit down and wiggle my fingertips to tell some well-polished stories. Summer has arrived on the Mittelland, the Swiss plains edged between the jagged Alps with their gleaming peaks of eternal snow to the South, and the rolling wooded hills of the Jura to the North. This hyper-densely populated area is the hub of the proverbial Swiss industrial diligence. Every square millimeter of space is put at man’s service and an ant’s nest under the midday sun would look like a global conference of sloths, were you able to contemplate it side by side, from a safe distance of course, with this gentle landscape transformed by centuries upon centuries of Puritan work ethics. Busy highways crisscross the area in a dense web of concrete strips that tunnel through hills and mountain ranges as if they were made of soft slabs of Swiss cheese. A mix of ultra modern cars zip at 140km/h between urban centres and giant industrial areas and after sailing the vast waters of the South Pacific I have been reduced to a minuscule co-conspirator of this accelerated madness. I’ve entered the Swiss labor market with a shaky foot on the bottom rung, learning the demanding trade of a CPD* delivery driver. This 21st century form of slavery is a complicated art requiring a sharp eye and impeccable memory.

I’m sitting at this moment on the passenger seat of the notoriously yellow-sided vehicle, and I’m staring out into a slither of sultry greenery left lonely between some imposing blocks of concrete and steel architecture. My trainer is taking a power nap slouched behind the wheel with his feet stretched out through the window of the open driver door. Soram* is his name and he is originally from Bosnia. Nowadays though a French citizen and therefore under the Schengen Agreements of Free Movement allowed to work in Switzerland. He stayed up late last night to root on his previous countrymen. They were bravely fighting a battle of soccer against the world’s greatest, the mighty and agile Brazilians, hosts of this year’s Soccer World Cup that has managed to bring the social tensions in this giant of South American nations to the boiling point. We are waiting for the feeder truck that is supposed to appear shortly on the parking lot and transfer a couple dozens of international packages to us to take along for delivery on the remainder of our route for the day. Soram’s eleven countrymen had suffered an honorable 3:1 defeat the previous evening. But for us, defeat is not an option!

We had started our day at a quarter to six in the morning. This is my third day of initiation into the arts of delivering packages and my shirt sports the corporate colors yellow and red of the global logistics giant CPD. Already we had picked up and initiated the scanner, the courier’s weapon against all odds. It lives in a holster on our waist loaded and ready to shoot its gleaming laser cross at bar codes on worn cardboard boxes of all sizes in split seconds. Our delivery truck stood eager amongst at least two dozen others with its back doors flung open wide and angry, waiting to be stuffed to the brim like a Thanksgiving turkey with goods in portioned packages.

The shrill sound of a siren had announced the end of every hint of sanity and the distributor band started rolling. Two hundred meters of turning stainless steel rollers became a conveyor belt for an avalanche of packages and my eyes also transformed into a scanning machine, sifting through a slurry of black and white patterns to extract vital information about the destination of those morsels of merchandise. Packages marked with our tour number had to be dragged off the conveyer, their bar codes scanned and then sorted according to their location on our tour. Those at the end were loaded first only to be buried under a carefully choreographed sequence of post to be delivered. Over a dozen other drivers were immersed in this same highly mental activity, and the jokes flew back and forth over my head. It was an international salad bowl of languages with Turkish predominant and the dialects the splintered pieces the imploded Yugoslavian Republic had left behind after the latest of Balkan wars a very close second. The rowdy and happy humor reeked of testosterone, everybody played the alpha male but no one seemed big enough to take a lead.

After a good hour and a half the stream of cardboard slowed to a trickle and finally ceased. The tally in our scanner had stopped at one hundred and seventy three. According to Soram this was at the high end of things and a dense day of running and shoving lied ahead. And those were only the domestic deliveries. We had already scanned in an additional twenty or so international packages and were now waiting for another batch coming at us with the feeder truck.

Soon we are under way again. Soram has done this for a couple of years now while I’m still struggling to hit the big yellow button that fires the laser on the scanner. But that’s what I’m here for: to become a master of the tool! The routine is this: Soram stops in front of a building, usually the delivery ramp of some factory or the main entrance of an apartment complex. He indicates the exact place where the package needs to be delivered and tells me the name of the business or person. I jump down from the passenger seat of the van and race to the back door, pull it open and search for the right pack amongst the mountain of dirty milk coffee brown melange of merchandise. Once I have homed in on the corresponding unit, I grab it without delay and run towards the indicated place, shout out a hearty good morning and with the most serviceable of smiles announce the visit of goodies delivered by CPD. All deliveries need to be signed, so I shop around for a willing victim to scratch his or her mark on the little screen of my scanner. That person’s name needs to be input with the most cumbersome keypad you can imagine. A sentence or two of spiffy small talk is then in order to cultivate crucial customer satisfaction before shooting out of the establishment again with a resounding well wishing for the remainder of the day. A full two hundred times a day this is repeated between zippy driving through the verdant limestone landscape of the northeastern Jura. Our yellow van snakes its way over and through the regular ranges of the characteristic geologic folds I remember drawing neatly in my notebook during geography class way back when. Mysterious rock formations tower above our way seemingly fit for camouflaged hideaways to a slew of gremlins and hobbits and their doves and foxes. The work is tedious, it’s a tour de force for the memory cells. Within a couple of weeks I will have to be able to do this all by myself. A quick glance in the back of the truck should by then be enough to memorise the next couple addresses and strategise the route for the delivery, while in the morning the vehicle’s loading deck will need to be organised so that the day can rum smoothly. Once learned and practised it will become mechanical and automated and I will be transformed into yet another robot in the system. There will be absolutely nothing special or extraordinary about that.

What is extraordinary is that most of my fellow drivers are extraordinary human beings, once you sit down to get to know them. They do these twelve-hour days five times in a row every week of the year to bring up their families and provide their children a better future. At least that’s what they say, if you ask them why they are putting up with all this. Soram grew up during the war years and he spent his first five years of economic productivity in the army fighting at times his friends and neighbours because he was told to do so. This whole thing with the ethnic hatred is a cruel invention of those who profit from the war, says Soram in our short conversations interrupted again and again by my delivery runs. The common people don’t care if their neighbours are from here or there, they get along just fine. We were taught to hate and forced to make distinctions. But that’s the past! We have to get over it. Still today down there they hash about who has done this and who has done that. This makes no sense at all. I’m French nowadays, because there ‘les gens s’en fou! People don’t care! Look at France’s national soccer team! They are all from Africa, but the French drink their good wine and have made it all theirs a long time ago.

Mid afternoon we start going down the list of pick-ups, visiting factories and businesses to take along the products they have been manufacturing. They now also need to make their way along the frantic highways of economic development and arrive at other businesses who will further assemble machines and gadgets, or end up in the hands of consumers, who, in order to pay for those machines and gadgets also need to run around and sell themselves as labourers, doing things they don’t really like to do, but think they have to do in order to acquire this shady wealth that isolates us from the living things that grow right under our feet and in front of our eyes. Fear is the fuel in this machine of running madness and only once we have delivered our entrusted goods to the giant depot where we started our day in the morning do we breath a deep sigh of relief and head each back to our homes. Soram to his family of three to tranquillise the never ending longing for more and better goods his wife has written down on her mental list, to take his two kids for a stroll in the neighbourhood to wring them away from the fatal attraction displayed on the latest smart phone screens. During his short rest at night, while his closed eyes stare at a concrete wall he dreams of a simple life planting potatoes and raising pigs. Life must make more sense to a farmer who works the land, he had confessed to me earlier on and wanted to know nothing of my concerns about the hardship particular to this age old profession. He will wake up like me at five o’clock tomorrow morning and present himself timely and diligently for another day in the life of a delivery driver, a life very few Swiss can imagine, and even fewer would even consider doing themselves, and be it just for a while to get a first hand understanding of what’s behind this enormous machine of convenience that is never ever good enough!

 

*Names has been changed to respect privacy