Home > Humor, observations > What time is it?  Oh, who cares…

What time is it?  Oh, who cares…

May 25, 2008

I appreciate punctuality as much as the next guy, but apparently not as much as the next Swiss guy.  BBC News posts a very amusing article on Swiss punctuality:

…despite the national enthusiasm for punctuality, Swiss companies are now trying to formalise the timekeeping of their employees and there is currently a boom in time management software…

Yeah, that’s what the Swiss need – better time management.  It’s a very funny – or possibly very sad – article.  If the writer is even partially correct, the Swiss are an entire nation on the verge of culturally-induced mental illness. The writer wonders how the Swiss are going to react to the different time-habits of thousands of Euro2008 “football” fans.  Hope he writes a follow-up article.

Maybe they just need to relax and listen to some Chicago

Categories: Humor, observations
  1. May 25, 2008 at 17:25 | #1

    I have lived and worked in Switzerland and they never struck me as punctual—not even in the German-speaking part (forget about the French and Italian areas). I fondly remember all those three-hour lunches, billed straight to the client, of course. Their trains were right on time, though. If they were more than five minutes late, the conductor usually apologized over the PA.

    This statement of the BBC article caught my attention:

    Switzerland still operates on the principle that Mum is at home

    Shit, don’t they operate on that principle. If you’re working long days, you can’t get any grocery shopping done, because by the time you get off work, the stores are already closed. Not a problem, because the women are supposed to stay home, cook, clean, and do the shopping.

  2. May 25, 2008 at 18:31 | #2

    Interesting!  So what’s up with their fascination with fancy timepieces?  More accurate client billing?

  3. May 25, 2008 at 20:35 | #3

    I guess perfecting this type of fancy mechanics gave them something to do in the winter. Many regions of Europe specialized in some kind of craft and the Swiss turned out to have or develop a knack for watchmaking. I haven’t observed them being big on client billing—not in terms of Swiss Francs, of course, but in terms of lawyerly accounting for time.

    Come to think of it, there’s something odd. Two things they’re good at is mechanics at opposite ends of the scale—tinkering with tiny clockworks and eviscerating mountains. Go figure.

  4. May 25, 2008 at 21:09 | #4

    LOL!  I feel so much better about America’s crazy obsession with punctuality now.  Switzerland’s looking like a nation with serious OCD issues.

  5. May 25, 2008 at 21:22 | #5

    I read an article by a guy who worked as a consultant at a Japanese company for a year.  At one point he got called into the office and told that his habit of arriving “up to thirty seconds late every single day” was hurting morale in the office.  That’s one company, not necessarily the whole country, but still…

  6. Janet
    May 29, 2008 at 14:50 | #6

    A cynical quotation I’d recently jotted down while re-watching a classic film has been sticking in my mind since reading your post earlier today! 

    Harry Lime (Orson Welles) in THE THIRD MAN (1949):
    “In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder, bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love; they had 500 years of democracy and peace—and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.”

  7. Janet
    May 29, 2008 at 14:59 | #7

    Of course, since writing that comment above I had to do a little internet wandering, and found this YouTube clip of the scene.
    Interesting that the comment below the YouTube tells us that the cuckoo clock was a German invention, not Swiss.

  8. May 29, 2008 at 15:00 | #8

    LOL – that one is going right into the quotes file…

  9. Janet
    May 29, 2008 at 15:13 | #9

    Not to belabor the point, but I did find a better film clip that puts the quote into perspective.


    Welles really was brilliant in that film.

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