02 November 2006

Bust on the Tram

Something very exciting has just happened and I must tell you all about it! I just witnessed someone getting busted for not having a ticket on the 11 Tram!

The public transportation in Switzerland is on the Honor System. (I know. As a former New Yorker, I shake my head in amazement as well.) You are trusted to purchase your ticket and carry it on you at all times. However, no one checks for your ticket before you board the train, tram or bus. Periodically they send Inspectors through the vehicles to do spot-checks. I had been warned of this, but had never before seen it.

This morning was one such day. At one of the stops, some men wearing bright blue uniforms boarded the tram and worked their way down the line of passengers. A few people spontaneously decided they needed that stop after all and quickly got off. (Hmm. I wonder if perhaps they did not have tickets?)

They checked my ticket and moved to the man in front of me. He was around 30 years old and dressed in a three-piece suit. Not exactly the picture of a fare dodger. He went into his wallet and came up empty. He went through every pocket of his suit coat. Still no ticket. Now becoming a bit desperate, he literally emptied the contents of his briefcase on the seat next to him.

Throughout the search he was constantly talking. With the bit of German I know, he seemed to be saying that he has an annual pass, but he seems to have left it somewhere else that day. The inspectors stood over him and said nothing. After he gave up searching, they asked for his identification. They escorted him off the tram at the next stop.

From the signs posted everywhere in four different languages, I know the penalty is 80 CHF (about $72). But I do not know if there are other repercussions as well. Given the exacting nature of the Swiss that I have noticed to date, I suspect this will go on his "permanent record."

And in other news -- we took possession of our apartment yesterday. In the morning we rented a small moving van and went first to Interio to pick up a beautiful bed frame, dining table and bench. Then on to IKEA to pick up the mattress, some bedding and a few essential kitchen items. IKEA was madhouse. We didn't realize that it was a religious holiday (All Saints' Day.) Our landlady later told us that while Canton Zurich is predominantly Protestant and doesn't observe All Saints' Day, the Catholics from Central Switzerland take the religious holidays as an opportunity to go shopping in Zurich. She warned us to avoid shopping on December 8 as well.

I promise more later. Right now I need to research where we can find Science Diet catfood in Zurich. Then I am leaving to stop by the store for laundry & dishwasher detergent before heading to the apartment to do more organizing.


CORRECTION: GLH has pointed out to me that CHF80 is actually closer US$64, not US$72. Math has never been my strong suit, but I can analyze poetry tell the cows come home. Too bad that is not as much of a marketable skill...


Ms Mac said...

I got busted on the train not long ago. I wouldn't have minded except that I did have a ticket, I just had forgotten to validate it at the machine on the train platform. CHF80 later and a mark against my name for further reference!

That'll learn me!

Pointless Drivel said...

Thank goodness we got that cleared up. That extra six bucks can get you a cup of over-ground-and-over-heated-until-it-is-too-bitter-to-have-even-a-close-proximity-to-what-it-should-taste-like-but-still-inexplicably-trendy-and-popular coffee at Starbucks. Well, a small cup.

The Big Finn said...

I go to a store called Qualipet to buy something called "Science Plan" for my cat. The label looks the same as "Science Diet" in the U.S. I think they're the same thing.

Global Librarian said...

Ms. Mac -- oh, you now have a permanent record in Switzerland. Life may never be the same again.

Big Finn, thanks for the tip. Coincidentally, we were at Qualipet earlier today. We came away well-equipped with cat food, litter and the like. We even found Greenies, our cats' favorite treat, which we call "Kitty-Crack."

Diane said...

I came your way via the Swiss Job blog of my friend Barry. Another friend moved to Lausanne in May and when I went to visit I had to go to Ikea and Interio with him - I think Interio is a great shop and wish we had them in the UK! Have fun furnishing the rest of your house!


swissmiss said...

Welcome back - I left you a comment that didn't take a while ago.

I'm always surprised at how few people get busted when they do a control. You know that system would never work in the US!