One reason why our rent is somewhat affordable (at least compared to other rents in Zurich) is because we as tenants have the responsible task to clean the stairway and the basement. The neighbours and the housekeeper are very peculiar about it. When we checked out the house before we moved in, we could catch a glimpse of the cleaning list in the stairway and we saw that our names were already written down (before we even signed the lease!!).
We are six tenants in our house. Which means all of us have two months of “basement cleaning duty” during the year. The basement, that is the washing room, the drying room, the corridor with all the individual basement stalls and the bicycle room.
The first month is easy. Just sweep the basement. But the second month is more profound. The full programme applies!
For me, the full programme included: sweeping the floor. Cleaning the windows. And mop the floor (which I wouldn’t have automatically included but I was told that we have to do it, so I was aware of it). Fine. So yesterday I decided to quickly clean the basement. I could have asked Karsten to do so, but I know that our neighbours are peculiar about the cleanliness of the building and no offence, darling, but I know you like to forget a corner or two…
Everything would have been fine. I calculated around 30 minutes for it. Until I met our neighbour from across the hall. He noticed complaisantly that I was about to clean the basement. When I mentioned that it always takes some time until it’s done, he said with a very meaningful smile “Yes! If you do it properly, it takes some time indeed!”
Properly! I went downstairs, started vacuum cleaning (it’s much more efficient than sweeping!) and I was absorbed in thoughts. Properly! That probably meant that I was supposed to get rid of all the cobwebs on the ceilings as well. Damn, there are a lot of cobwebs in the basement. And a lot of daddy longlegs. Which made the vacuum cleaning very complicated: I tried not to clean up the longlegs, on the one hand because I felt sorry for them (also see here), on the other hand because I knew they would probably crawl out of the vacuum cleaner again and then get cosy in our storeroom.
Afterwards, I started cleaning the windows. All nine of them. Properly? That probably meant that I was supposed to dust of the outside window benches as well. Which resulted in a lot of leaves, dead spiders and cobwebs on the freshly cleaned floor. Ok, so another round of vacuum cleaning. And then cleaning the windows. From the inside and the outside.
Properly… That probably meant that I was supposed to clean the cracks of the window frames as well. Particularly because when we moved out of our old flat, the lady of the housing estate found the only spot in the whole flat which we forgot to clean (and we were three persons cleaning a 2.5 room flat for a whole day!). She found the window cracks. And I wasn’t allowed to sign the release form until I cleaned the cracks.
After the windows, I washed out the cloth. Properly? That probably meant that I was supposed to clean the sink in the laundry room as well.
Properly! It probably also meant that I should clean the top of the doors….
After more than an hour, I was done with everything except the bicycle room. With 12 bikes in it, which all had to be moved in order to clean the corners. Because I wanted to do it properly!
After two hours and about 30 accidentally vacuumed daddy longlegs, I was finally done. DONE! Just in time to watch the soccer game! Thank god we only have to clean the basement once a year!!
Ps: The vacuum cleaner is now stored on the balcony, so all the longlegs have a chance to peacefully escape.
Ps: I didn’t move all the bikes. Only half of them. It’s my way to forget a corner or two….
Ah, yes, everything has to be very nice and tidy in Switzerland!
Yes, it sounds like such a stereotype and I know that there are many stereotypes about Germans too (including bureaucracy and tidiness), but I am still surprised how often I stumble across the Swiss tidiness and neatness 🙂
I feel a lot of sympathy for you here! Being introduced to Swiss tidiness principles is hard for non-Swiss people… However, being told how to do it and then witnessing that other genuinely Swiss people ignore this (e.g. don’t remove ANY of the bicycles for cleaning, completely avoiding the first month’s sweeping because you don’t notice a difference afterwards etc) helps to find one’s own way of “forgetting a corner or two” 😉 And sooner or later one learns something about the essentials of Swiss thinking: It’s very important how stuff looks on the outside. It doesn’t matter whether it’s hygienic, sensible or efficient. It just needs to look nice&tidy. Instead of removing all the lime stains on your bathroom’s interior with acid just polish it until it’s flat and shiny. It won’t keep any bacteria or fungi from growing there but it looks nice. Job done 😀 Other nice examples include (but are in no way limited to) the FIFA, Mammut outdoor wear or Swiss banking. They seem to have given up on the skiing resorts in the alps, though.
One good thing, on the other hand, is that you always have the doubtful advantage of being non-Swiss. “Ah, the Germans, they don’t learn in school how to properly clean stuff/cook/behave…”
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