I live up in the mountains in Switzerland. During the week, I am at university in Lausanne. So most Sunday evenings, you will find me making my way back to my flat. First, taking the little red cogwheel train down to the valley floor, then the normal train from Bex to Vevey.
The little train goes down once an hour, just in time to meet the main line, which runs from Milan to Geneva. Much of the time, it is empty. It is never more than a minute late going down. In the other direction it sometimes has to wait for the mainline train. I have depended on this train for transport for the past ten years; until such time as I buy a car, this will likely remain the state of things.
Yesterday evening, it was rather cold. I notice my watch tick over to 19:44 with slight irritation: the train should have been here a minute ago. A car pulls up. Are you waiting for the train? I'm afraid it broke down, we decided to use my car instead. I got in and commented that it was very kind of them to pick me up. Well, we couldn't cancel the train, could we? Having faced several cancelled trains in other parts of the world, I am sceptical. I mean, if we had cancelled the train, you'd have been stuck out here in the cold and would have had to wait for an hour. We stop at every station. I am the only passenger this evening. If I hadn't been there, it wouldn't have mattered: the train must run and it must run on time.
Three years ago, I bought a laptop and a case to carry it in. The laptop is quite heavy and the case's handle broke. The laptop also broke later but I bought a new one, cheap, so it doesn't matter. I go to see the cobbler in Vevey. Seems a nice guy, quite competent. He quotes me a price half that of a new computer case. Rock on! Unfortunately, I need the case right now. I can use the shoulder-strap for the time being.
I haven't lived in Vevey long, so I have never noticed which shops open when. I go to drop off my bag for repair a few days later and discover that the cobbler's opening hours are a very good match for the hours I wish to attend class. On a whim, I enter the butcher's opposite. Can I leave my bag here for you to take it over to the cobbler's when he opens?. It seems there will be no problem. Just tell him I'll come and pick it up tomorrow.
The following day, I go to the cobbler's, pick up my bag and pay. A different outcome would not have entered my head.
Recently, we had a referendum on making it easier for foreigners and their children to obtain Swiss nationality. Your average Swiss is pretty wary of foreigners as he sees them as a threat to his way of life. It came as no surprise when the motion was rejected.
I am not much of a nationalist. I think patriotism is a load of bullshit. Yes US citizen who wishes God to bless America, I'm looking at you. I think very few countries have any national values which are both real and unique. But in most of Switzerland, we have a safety, a sense of cosiness which is worth having. Here, the idealist which lives in many people has a chance to express himself.
I don't think foreigners are a danger to our way of life. Their children are no more (and no less) likely to grow up with different values from mine than so called "Swiss children". My parents are English, so who am I to talk? But when I realise what we have to lose if our Good Old Swiss Values did happen to change, I find it hard to blame the misguided efforts of Johann Swiss to preserve his way of life at any cost.
I am torn between my desire of preservation and my moral incapacity of bearing this cost.