A nation that hates to be late

The Swiss enjoy their own punctuality and efficiency.

Stereotypes exist for many countries, but for Switzerland they are true.

All the inhabitants of this alpine country are indeed very efficient. And scrupulously punctual. And also - incredibly clean.

For chronically late and hopelessly ineffective (and even more so sloppy) people like me, visiting Switzerland is a kaleidoscope of emotions: a mixture of awe with relief and a hint of irritation.

For the Swiss, punctuality is not just a little joy that graces life. This is a source of deep satisfaction.

All Swiss seem to share the beliefs of the German philosopher Schopegauer, who defined happiness as "the absence of suffering."

They find real pleasure in the fact that everything in their life happens in a timely and efficient manner.

Every time I come to Switzerland, I go through several stages of reaction to punctuality.

At first, she delights me, especially in comparison with neighboring Italy and France, where the timing is much more libertine.

In Switzerland, everything in life is stable and reliable, like a St. Bernard. If people have agreed to meet at 14:00, they will come at 14:00, not 14:05 (and, by the way, not at 13:55). And I love it. But not for long.

Then it starts to annoy me. This extreme punctuality seems to me partly a manifestation of tight-fistedness, and I begin to understand the English writer Evelyn Waugh, who said that "punctuality is a virtue of the idle."

However, I understand that this is unfair, and in the end I invariably come to realize the true essence of Swiss punctuality, which is to show deep respect for others.

Punctuality is a property of politeness. Arriving on time, always and everywhere, the Swiss thereby declares: "I value your time, which means I value you too."

It is no coincidence that the world's best watches are produced in Switzerland. It is difficult to say what came first - the accuracy of the watchmakers or the punctuality of the inhabitants of this country, but the result does not change: the trains here always arrive on time. And not just trains.

Yes, and there are still toilets! “Have you seen our public toilets?” A Swiss doctor named Dieter asked me one afternoon in Geneva over an afternoon beer. “Very clean.” I didn't lie.

Toilets in Switzerland are really very clean - as well as everything else. In some countries, drinking tap water is tantamount to suicide - and in Switzerland it is even fashionable, because this water comes from natural sources.

What explains this cleanliness and punctuality? No one knows for sure, but the popular theory is that this developed historically due to the harsh farming conditions in this mountainous area that did not forgive mistakes.

Either you plant and harvest on time, or you die of hunger - and nothing can be done about it.

Unfortunately, in many countries around the world, the art of punctuality is dying. Mobile phones are partly to blame for this: people have ceased to care so much about arriving on time, because you can always send a message that you will be a few minutes late.

However, I have a feeling that this does not happen in Switzerland.

American writer Susan Jane Gilman, who has been living in Geneva for 11 years, says with admiration that "the taxi was never late here: it always arrived exactly at the appointed time."

She is still amazed at how, for example, when ordering a refrigerator, she is told a two-hour interval during which delivery will be made, and this deadline is strictly observed.

Switzerland has changed its character. Gilman, who was once "chronically late, " has become strictly punctual. "I began to respect other people's time more, " she says, as, in general, any Swiss would say in her place.

However, this medal also has a flip side: when the writer returns to her native New York, she is infuriated by the relatively disdainful attitude to time: either the bus will arrive 15 minutes later (or it will not appear at all!), Then the friends will come to the restaurant half an hour late.

"My friends in such cases say:" Susie, honey, this is not Switzerland! Don't worry, they will hold a table for us! "But I have become very demanding. It annoys me when people are late."

Punctuality has its drawbacks. For example, it causes confusion. So, every day at four o'clock in the afternoon, coffee houses in Swiss cities are overflowing, because everyone takes a coffee break at exactly 4:00 pm.

Extreme punctuality also leads to the formation of certain expectations, and if the expectations are not met, this leads to frustration.

On the rare occasion that something goes wrong, the Swiss get nervous and angry.

Recently, the entire country was shocked by the alarming news that only 87.5% of the trains of the federal railway company arrived within three minutes of the time indicated on the schedule, while the target figure was 89%.

However, perhaps this disappointment is not unfounded. Indeed, in the field of punctuality in Switzerland, competitors are literally on their heels.

For example, compared to the Japanese bullet train Shinkansen, Swiss rail transport seems hopelessly late. In the Land of the Rising Sun the average annual backlog of trains from the schedule is 36 seconds.