Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Y'have anything smaller than that???

...or the German equivalent, is something I have never heard in Switzerland. Let me explain.
In America, there are often signs at stores, gas stations, etc. that state that you can't pay with large bills (usually bills larger than $50, but sometimes even larger than $20). For example, if you go into 7-Eleven and buy a Slurpee or a Big Gulp, you can't pay with a $100 bill. Well, this is not the case when you buy things in Switzerland.
In the past, I have actually apologized when I went to pay for something only to find that I didn't have any small bills. I quickly came to realize that businesses didn't consider this a problem at all. Today, I was reminded of this unique feature of Swiss life when I bought a hot dog at the Brezelkönig stand. The hot dog (which comes in a pretzel-bread bun with mustard, ketchup, banana-curry sauce, or tartar sauce...I like tartar sauce) costs 5 CHF (about $4 U.S.). When it came time to pay, I found that the smallest bill I had was a 200 CHF note (about $160 U.S.). I just gave it to the man, and he happily gave me 195 CHF in change. I have NEVER been asked in Switzerland if I had a smaller bill, and I'm beginning to think that I never will.
The hot dog was a nice lunch after my first German lesson of the new school year. Last night, I set my watch for 8:15 a.m., and I ended up waking up at 8:47 a.m. I have absolutely no memory of hearing the alarm. Luckily, I woke up when Dominique moved on the bed. I jumped out of bed, took a shower, had a quick breakfast, walked Dominique, and walked out of the house at 9:30 a.m. I made it to my school at 10:00 (my lesson was at 10:15), which gave me a chance to go around the corner and grab a quick grande tageskaffee zum mitnehmen mit platz für rahm (large coffee of the day to go with room for cream) at Starbucks. I actually said with cream, and I noticed that the lady was about to put whipped cream on my coffee. So, I said it in English, and she told me to say room for cream instead of with cream. Lesson learned. Although, the whipped cream probably would have been a nice touch. Maybe I'll go for that next time. By the way, a grande coffee of the day at Starbucks in Basel costs 4.80 CHF (about $3.85 U.S.). Is that a lot? What do they cost in America now?
After Starbucks, I stopped at a travel agent to pick up a travel brochure for a friend, and then I went to Douglass to buy some moisturizer (I know, kind of gay.) and a loofah mit (I know, even gayer!), and finally I did a little window shopping. I saw my much coveted Breitling watch, some clothes that looked good but were several sizes too small for me, and then I jumped on the tram and was whisked back to Reinach.

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