Thursday, June 16, 2005

I'm feeling a bit paranoid...

I'm not really sure why, but the last couple of times of gone over the border, the border guards have pulled me over and asked me for my passport. Last week, when I drove into Germany, they had me pull off to the side of the rode while they went into their little booth with my passport. I could see them in my sideview mirror looking at every page of my passport and typing stuff into a computer.
Today, as I was returning from grocery shopping in France, the Swiss border patrol had me pull off to the side after asking me for my passport AND my drivers license. Then, one of the men wanted to look in the back of the Jeep to see what I bought. I was under all my duty-free limits, so I had nothing to worry about. After a brief debate where I had to convince him that duck breasts counted toward the poultry limit and not the red meat limit (he had to ask his superior), he thanked me in Finnish by saying "kiitos". Apparently he recognized the origin of my last name.
My guess is that there is some big bald fugitive hiding out in Switzerland and I happen to match the description. Or, maybe they're just kind of bored. I was, afterall, the only car pulling up to the border crossing at the time.
And, on another topic...
Mrs. TBF and I have now lived in Switzerland for almost five years. There are MANY things I prefer about living in Switzerland as opposed to living in the U.S. However, the one thing I miss from America probably more than anything else (other than being able to regularly see family and friends) is... good old American dry cleaning. Although it does cost twice as much here than it does in America - it's not the cost that bothers me.
The first thing that bothers me is that if you walk into the dry cleaners and there are two people in front of you in line, it's going to take close to ten minutes before you're served. It's just INCREDIBLY slooooooooooooowwwww! They look at just about every tag on every garment to see the cleaning instructions. It's a dry cleaner for God's sake...just dry clean it!!! What's the problem??? Then, they have to put a number tag on every single piece that you're having cleaned. The guy two in front of me in line must have had his wife's entire winter wardrobe on the counter. There were scarves, and wool pants, and a down jacket....AAHHHHH!!! Then, the lady behind the counter would say something in French that I understood to mean "...for this garment we have two cleaning possibilities" ....AAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!! Then, the guy didn't have enough cash, so he had to pay with his credit card ...AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The lady in front of me was having the most bizarre stuff dry cleaned. She had this ruby red ruffled dress, and then a matching corset-like bodice with about thirty buckles on cleaning instructions... "...for this garment we have eighty-four cleaning possiblities!" .....AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Then, it was my turn - no questions, no looking at the cleaning instructions, I paid, she told me it would be ready tomorrow afternoon - I felt gypped.
The second thing that bothers me is that the cleaning is just not as good as it is in the U.S. At Village Cleaners in Barrington, Illinois, Mr. Kim would always take care of TBF (and still does when TBF returns to Chicago). The clothes would come back perfectly cleaned and pressed. My "extra-heavy starch" request would always be honored (I'd tell him that I wanted to be able to slice lunch meat with the shirt cuffs). The clothes would actually look better than new. French dry cleaning - kind of pressed, but some wrinkles. The collars and cuffs usually look like they need to be touched up. Starch is pretty much unheard get the picture.
And here's the worst part of it...French dry cleaning is about ten times better than Swiss dry cleaning. Swiss dry cleaning costs twice as much as dry cleaning in France, it takes up to TWO WEEKS to get your stuff back, and it's pretty wrinkled when you do get it back some time the following month. Swiss dry cleaning is so slow and so expensive that I'm convinced it's better just go to the U.S. with six month's worth of dry cleaning, have it cleaned there, and then just bring it back. The cost savings will pay for the airline ticket, and you'll have it back at the same time as you would from the local Swiss cleaners.
I guess I'm complaining a bit today, so I guess I just have to look at the positive side of all of this. The dry cleaning experience here is not comparable to what it is in the U.S., but it still beats the ultimate horror - ironing my own clothes.


The DP said...

you would not believe how often husband and i have been stopped at the border in basel. once we spent an hour there while they tried to make sure my husband wasn't a terrorist. also the dumb witch at the american embassy in bern totally scribbling on my passport makes me look real legit for a white girl too. grrrr

Kirk said...

When we still had our US plates, we got stopped once at the border crossing into Germany at Lorrach and after taking our passports and returning them, we noticed they had actually stamped them. I'm wondering if they'll be a collector's item someday since I can't imagine many people have a Lorrach stamp in their passport...