Thursday, June 11, 2009

No Smiling Allowed - You're in Switzerland

First of all - don't fall out of your chair at the fact this makes my 3rd post in 3 days. I still have no time but there are moments of peace and I just feel like writing things down. I wish I wasn't writing about this but as Bart said this afternoon "This is total Blog material."

Today was our day to head straight to the Waedenswil Gemeinde (similar to a City Hall) after school to re-register our B permits (residence permits). We have to do this annually and must supply new passport photos each year with our renewal - Cha Ching says the City$$$ Love those Expats! So we arrive armed with our photos, paperwork, approved Work Permit, passports and $$$.

The very nice lady starts processing the papers, we are signing, handing over photo's, she's done with Bart's and gets to mine - my photo that is. She takes it over to another lady at a desk who's shaking her head. I'm thinking - I lined up my head with the little line as instructed and that pic looks a heck of a lot better than last year's. She comes back and says the picture is not good. Then looks at Bart's pic again and shakes her head and says "the mouth cannot have teeth."

"No Smiling in the picture."

Hello??? We wanted to laugh but on the other hand were greatly confused. She asked if all the pictures were with smiles. I said, in German, "Yes, we are all smiling. That is normal when taking a photo." She nodded her head and proceeded to explain the rules have changed. The B permit is now issued via electronic card - what they want is a mug shot. This information is not on the paperwork.

So down to the train station we go to spend another 24chf on passport photos (we've now invested 48chf in passport photos - aackkk) and back to the Gemeinde. Where it was all processed and allows us to go to the Canton Zurich Migration office tomorrow for our Visa's. We need return Visa's as we are coming back as resident's but will have expired B permits. Ah - because the new permits may not come for 2 -3 months. Are you confused? I am. No wonder that Switzerland is still financially afloat.

Our pic's look like mug shots. I have bug eyes and a pinhead, Bart is somewhat awake (and irritated at this point) after a flight in from the States and hadn't shaved, the girls have "end of the school day" hair and look, well, not themselves. Because trying to take a picture and purposely NOT smile, gives a person almost a frown.

Why would we laugh about this? No offense to my Swiss friends but, this is classic. Stereotypical of what one might experience in the prettiest place on earth that contains the largest population of people who look like they just had dill pickles for lunch. Actually - they do eat a lot of dill pickles . Maybe that's the problem.

I've discussed this with my neighbor Y, my friend M - they all admit that the Swiss do not smile enough (they are Swiss). They laugh at my "Swiss" face. And tell me I should keep smiling and laughing because others need to see it. Now, it's a requirement in order to get your residence permit - prove you can take a picture without smiling. I bet my other neighbor, the one I finally got to say "Guten Morgen" to me after 2 years!!! of living here, could take a really good Permit picture. It's in her blood.

OK - I have to stop now or it'll get out of hand. If you've visited Switzerland, you've probably been in primarily larger communities or areas that are tourist/resort oriented. In those areas, people are predominately friendly and multi-lingual. That's how they make their living and they should - they're good at it and it's a beautiful country. They should smile.

Then, there's the little man in the little green car down the street who growls at me, waves his arms and yells nearly every time I pass him. Because my car is on the road? He doesn't like the color? I'm a lady driver? ?????? I've never seen him smile. Sad. Ooo - there I go again.

So now you know. No smiling allowed if you want permission to live in Switzerland.


Sarah said...


Makila said...

You can smile at my house!

MOM E said...

The "no smiling" rule is coming to an agency near you...the Swiss are a little ahead. The smile messes up matching/scanning etc. Rumor has it our new badges will be the same...can't wait. At least we don't have to PAY for our IDs...well I'm sure somebody is paying for them...

Susan May said...

This is classic. Thanks for posting!

Jolyn said...

Oh my. And the Germans. Too funny. Must be all those pretty flowers they have to look at. Like Yin and Yang. Something has to balance out the beauty;)