So, we arrived in Zurich and were picked up by Laurie and René. Laurie went to high school with Bridgette's mom, and they have remained pretty close friends despite the long distance between LA and Switzerland. So, they picked us up in this gorgeous automobile (below) and took us to their home.
I have so many problems with that whole situation, though. First of all, what kind of a fine needs to be paid immediately? Second, the fine is one thing, but when you threaten police action for not having cash handy, the crime becomes not having cash on hand. With no credit card reader and no ATM on the train, it's a really absurd policy. I'm sure the Swiss train monitors get a lot of pleasure out of sending ignorant, helpless American girls to the police for no good reason on a daily basis.
I have had a lot of people assume that the guy just pocketed the cash from the fine, but he gave Laurie a receipt, so I assume it was legit. Also, I wish Laurie would have tried to speak to the man in German; I think that appealing to him in his native language might have softened him a little bit. All's well that ends well, but it was a pretty adrenaline filled moment. It's not every day people threaten to call the police on you!
While Switzerland was really lovely, this last interaction really changed my opinion on the country. Laurie went on to tell us that there are many fines for similar, small infractions. For instance, you can be fined an equal amount for putting your purse on the seat next to you on the train because it discourages other passengers from sitting in that seat. God forbid someone should have to interact with another human to ask "Could you please move your bag so that I can sit down?" The horror of common courtesy and conversation! Also, Sundays in Switzerland are regarded as quiet Sabbaths to be observed with family. Neighbors can and have called the police if they hear neighbors vacuuming or doing laundry or other noisy chores because it disturbs the peace. Considering Switzerland is stereotypically regarded as such an idyllic, neutral democracy, I was really shocked at the ways that their version of democracy hyper-regulates its constituents. It's a little scary!
Switzerland is just a strange place. It is HIGHLY expensive. Even though the exchange rate is almost 1:1 with the dollar, everything costs SO much money. Because of this, barely anyone has kids and if they do, many just have one. The Swiss population is declining because of this. What a weird place where economics overrule human nature.