Tuesday, February 15, 2005

What a difference four years makes...

I did one of my classic Swiss outings this morning/afternoon - Qualipet, Media Markt, and IKEA. However, before I went to the BIG THREE, I had to stop off at the Motorfahrzeugkontrolle (or, MFK) to change our address on our drivers licenses.
Four years ago, when I was in the process of changing from our Illinois license plates to Swiss plates, the MFK (I began substituting something else for the "M" and "F") was the bane of my existence. It was incredibly disorganized, most people refused to speak to me in English (and my German skills were practically non-existent), and worst of all: nobody would provide me with a list of all the things I needed in order to get my Swiss plates. It was absolutely one of the most frustrating experiences of my life!!!! I had to go to the MFK four times in order to get my plates. Each time, a person would tell me something like: "...now that you have these [useless] pieces of paper, you must go get this form from your pastor swearing that you did once drive an orange Vega." I'm exagerating slightly, but it wasn't too far from what I experienced. On the fourth trip, I begged an employee who spoke English to PLEASE provide me with a complete list of everything I needed, and he told me that all I needed was one piece of paper from my insurance agent. Luckily, I had the agent's phone number, asked the man if he would call the agent and have him fax him a copy, and surprisingly enough...he did just that. Although he had to throw in a "...this is highly unusual..." just for good measure.
Fast forward to four years later....
I walked into the MFK, and I was surprised to see that they now had a very organized number system. I pressed a button, and received number 516. I looked at the board and found that number 514 was currently being helped. About seven minutes later my number came up, and I went to a window where I was helped by a Herr Rüdisühli. I was able to tell him in German that my wife and I had just moved from Reinach to Binningen, and that I needed to change our address. He took our paper drivers licenses from me, went to a typewrite where he just put xxxxxxxxxxxx over the old address, typed the new address next to it, and put the official Baselland stamp next to it. It took about two minutes, and I was out of there! I kind of wish I hadn't put an hour's worth of coins into the parking meter.
On I went to buy some cat food from Qualipet along with a cat toy for King (I just can't pass up those stupid cat toys). After Qualipet, I drove to Media Markt where I bought some printer cartridges and stereo cables. Then, I went next door to IKEA.
When we first moved to Switzerland, I spent A LOT of time at IKEA. As a matter of fact, one time Mrs. TBF and I were in downtown Basel at Manor (a department store) and a man going down the escalator said hello to me in English while we were going up the escalator. Mrs. TBF asked me who he was, and I told her that it was the warehouse guy from IKEA. I just got an "Oh...my...God!" with the simultaneous eyes rolling up into the head...a classic Mrs. TBF look which I have had the pleasure of seeing at least about 5,000 times since we were married.
Anyway, I had to buy a small cabinet for our bathroom, and I actually understood the lady when she told me in German that I would have to pick out my own handles in the kitchen area before getting the rest of the stuff from the warehouse pick-up area after I paid for everything. Four years ago, I would have brought the boxes home, unpacked everything, assembled the cabinet, and then I would have hurled out a stream of expletives at IKEA, Sweden, and anything else that I could think of while wondering WHERE THE HELL THE @#$*&@#!!! HANDLES WERE!!!
So, I'm feeling pretty good about myself right now. Let's see if I still feel the same way after trying to assemble the damn cabinet.


Anonymous said...

You have one job and that is to update the site with pictures etc...

You are negligent!


The Big Finn said...

You're right. I have been negligent due to our move. However, I updated the website this morning, and hopefully it'll be updated on a regular basis from here on out.