Favourite Quotes

"When the Lord closes a door, somewhere He opens a window." - The Sound of Music

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Musings in Montreux

Went to Montreux today, as usual, to run the "Kiosque Biblique" with my dad. It was a pretty run-of-the-mill afternoon. Reasonable number of customers (we took over 100 francs), mainly buying postcards and stamps, with a fair number of magnets thrown in for good measure. I spent a fair portion of my time sitting down writing out price labels for the giant pencils, as I spotted that due to an error the white-pencils-with-pictures-of-Switzerland-and-a-pencil-sharpener were priced at the same price as the clearly more expensive red-pencils-with-the-Swiss-cross-and-a-pencil-sharpener-AND-a-cow-keyring variety. Dull, but in a pleasant way. Sometimes, when life has been very hectic and eventful, dull is quite reassuring.

It was also a good opportunity to observe all the little foibles of the tourist on holiday. We had nearly all the usual suspects today.

1) The "I am going to talk to you in my own language and expect you to understand" type. Today, it was all Germans. I have some sympathy for Germans. After all, in some parts of Switzerland we do speak German. Just not in Montreux. I have less sympathy for the Americans (or, I'm ashamed to admit it, the English).

2) The "I am going to display my ignorance of Switzerland's position within Europe and demand to pay in Euros" type. Please note: demand, not ask. You tell them the price and they say "What is that in Euros?", not asking if you take them but assuming that you do. Related to this type are those who ask to pay in dollars, or by credit card! (We are talking about a small wooden chalet by the side of the lake with a float of about 200 francs and they expect us to take cards?!?)

3) The "I am going to ask for a discount on the already very reasonably priced souvenirs" type. We once had someone try and bargain with us for ten minutes before she gave up and went away.

In fact, the only kind of tourist we didn't have today was, thankfully, the kind I dislike the most. Picture the scene: you have been running the kiosque for nearly 3 hours and are ready to go home. You've totted up the balance, started to clear things away, and it's just the tall postcard stands left. You start to take the brakes off and roll them towards the door to be stored in the chalet. Then along comes...

4) The "I am going to make a lengthy inspection of your postcards even though it is blindingly obvious that you are closing up and want to go home" type. These people just cannot take a hint! You close the shutters, shut up the counter, put everything else away... and they are still there. In the end, they either come up with a handful to buy, forcing you to get out the till box and the notebook all over again... or they finally 'notice' you standing idly by and walk off with an offended expression!

Well, those are the tourists I meet on a Thursday and Saturday afternoon. I hope, when I am a tourist myself, that I avoid all of these types and am a pleasure to serve... but somehow I doubt it!