Normally, I get little intellectual stimulation from the Swiss national free papers, 20 Minuten and Blick, but this evening’s Blick headline “Schwitzerland: Jetzt kommt der ewige Sommer” (sweat-land: here comes perpetual summer) does capture my mood perfectly.
The temperature this evening is 28 degrees Celsius / 82 degrees Fahrenheit.
Daytime temperature was 32 degrees Celsius / 89 degrees Fahrenheit.
Humidity hot and heavy.
Days unbearable, nights without rest or recreation, everyone grumpy and on edge.
This is a climate that tourists would pay a fortune to enjoy in the winter, but no one is joyfully singing “Hot time. Summer in the city. Back of the neck feeling dirt and gritty” now.
What baffles me is the pigheadedness of central Europeans when it comes to the issue of climate control or working in comfort.
Germans and Swiss, Italians and French would prefer to freeze in the winter and broil in the summer than consider proper central heating or air conditioning.
Even my wife, despite years of knowing our cultural differences, would prefer we both sweat to death rather than turn on an electric motor fan.
Europeans argue unbudgingly about the cost of comfort, about the environmental impact of these machines to cool our rooms.
Years I have spent arguing with my wife that I am not asking to climate control 365 days a year, but I can’t see why we have to needlessly suffer either.
Of course, she throws North America back at me.
In Canada, in the winter we hate the cold so much that we heat our homes to such an extreme that you see the wallpaper just a-bubblin’ off the walls.
In Texas, in the summer, inside is kept as cold as the Arctic, while outside feels like the surface of the sun.
There is no middle ground between the extremes.
In Switzerland, heaven is not meant to be a place on earth.
Suffering builds character.
What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.
So, work at Starbucks today, inside at the bar was like a North American native sweat lodge, while the Kiosk outside is like a Finnish sauna.
Endless procession of impatient customers demanding cold drinks NOW.
Frappucinos are part and parcel of a purgatory without end.
And, despite the discomfort and dissension in the ranks, management considers it too expensive to buy simple tabletop electric fans.
They, of course, stay downstairs in the cellar between two cool stone walls.
Weatherman says that 16 more days of this is expected.
I no longer wonder why so many more revolutions occur in the summer rather in the other three seasons.
But I have my own revenge…
I drink like a fish and pee like a racehorse and curse like a sailor and plot like a Communist.
And I would do all of this…
If I could just see past the sweat in my eyes…