What a country!

Rob's garage

I stopped at Rob’s Garage today – it’s a short walk from where I live – to ask about having my winter tires swapped out for my summer tires.

And yes, of course, in case you were wondering, it’s the law.

From what I’ve been told, it’s best not to be caught in the winter with summer tires. On the other hand, no one cares if you use your winter tires in the summer, though they may think you’re nutty, which must happen often with all of the expats who are driving around.

From the outside, Rob’s Garage looks like most garages you might see in the U.S. – well, in the nicer neighborhoods – but you can’t disguise the fact that this is a car repair business.

I had walked the dog by Rob’s Garage many times already, but I had never stopped. And so, with April coming to an end, I thought it was time to introduce myself to Rob (or someone inside) and acquaint him with my new vehicle – the “slightly older” Volvo station wagon, with the color of a deep thigh bruise, that I mentioned in an earlier post.

By the way, I hold my breath whenever I blog about Swiss culture, because I worry that I may offend someone. A couple of people didn’t like my “in the land of cheese, there is no cheddar” comment, for example.

But this story is too good not to tell, and it tells the story about this new culture about as well as any.

Inside I stood at the counter and asked about scheduling an appointment (in my worst German and Rob’s equally atrocious English), and to the left of Rob as we were chatting I spotted an enormous wine chiller. I mean, it was huge. I’ve never seen anything quite like it, and – get this – it was filled with very expensive-looking bottles of wine.

For customers, I wondered?

And next to the wine chiller was an espresso machine which I’m pretty sure I could not afford – not in this life or the next.  I made my tire appointment for early in the morning next week and plan to have a cup of Rob’s famous espresso, but I’m thinking that my next appointment (with that car you just know there will be another) should be late in the day.

And I imagine Rob calling out, “Pfarrer (that’s “pastor” around here), help yourself to a bottle! The Pinot Noir is nice! The cork screw is next to the espresso machine!”

And I’ll be thinking, “What a country!”

(Photo: I don’t see the wine chiller next to the counter. Maybe it’s a recent addition. Whenever it was added, it won over my business on the first visit.)

About Doug

I have been a writer ever since fifth grade when I won second prize in a “prose and poetry” contest. I am also a Presbyterian pastor, and for several years toward the end of my career I lived and worked in Zürich, Switzerland. I am now retired and live just north of Holland, Michigan, along the lake.

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13 Responses to What a country!

  1. Susan Davis April 14, 2014 at 12:43 pm #

    I loved your comment, ‘In the land of cheese there is no cheddar’. Keep it up!

  2. Michael Buffington April 14, 2014 at 1:47 pm #

    I mentioned this trend-setting marketing technique to Al, my Camp Hill, Pennsylvania mechanic. He chuckled… oh well, I’m used to his Sanka.

    • Doug April 14, 2014 at 2:05 pm #

      Am sorry about your mechanic, Michael. The untold part of the story – in addition to the fact that Meilen is an upscale area near Zurich – is that every line of work in this country requires extensive training, qualifying exams, apprenticeships, credentialing, etc. Rob is a professional, and it’s nice to see that he drinks (coffee) like one.

  3. Laurie Fuller April 14, 2014 at 1:55 pm #

    I look forward to your posts, you are like a good book, each chapter i can imagine in my head. As the very holy days are coming up, I get sad because I do miss you and am very selfish about our “stand in” minister. No one can compare to you, Doug. But at least I can still be close by this blog you so love to post. Keep them coming and Happy Easter!

  4. mike April 14, 2014 at 2:30 pm #

    Hello Doug –

    Drinking and driving – courtesy of your auto mechanic. What a country, is right.

    But this (see the link below) takes it up a notch and gives no meaning to the phrase – wine person.


    Hope this a wonderfully inspired Holy Week for you, Susan and your congregation.

    • Doug April 14, 2014 at 3:05 pm #

      I knew I could count on you, Mike! Thanks for that. And may you too have an inspired Holy Week. Please say hi to your family.

  5. Charles Scouten April 14, 2014 at 3:30 pm #

    Sounds like Rob is a fellow I’d like to meet!

  6. Barb& Tom Keith April 14, 2014 at 4:24 pm #

    Happy Easter, Doug & Susan,

    Easter won’t be the same this year without you here.
    You continue to be in our thoughts, prayers and are missed at First Pres!
    Hope you have a wonderful week and holiday!
    We are enjoying Cape Cod through June.

    Fondly, Barb & Tom

  7. Ruth Lundy April 14, 2014 at 6:51 pm #

    Have a lovely Holy Week. I remember you always liked Holy Week and Easter as your favorite time of the Christian year.

  8. Susana Pocock April 14, 2014 at 10:30 pm #

    Love reading your blog posts and hearing of your new life in a foreign land. Very entertaining and, like your sermons, educational! Still miss you though. Happy Easter!

    • Doug April 14, 2014 at 11:40 pm #

      I’m glad you’re still reading, Susana! Miss you too. I wish you and everyone at First Presbyterian a wonderful holy week and Easter.

  9. The Frau April 15, 2014 at 8:19 am #

    Glad to discover your blog. And don’t worry about offending people. The Frau offends people all the time. No matter what you write, someone will always be offended. Just tell the truth from your side and that’s all you can do.

    • Doug April 15, 2014 at 8:24 am #

      Am honored by your comment! And to my readers I want to recommend onebigyodel.com for several year’s worth of wonderful writing about Switzerland.