Thursday, April 19, 2007

putzfrau



The Swiss are known for their meticulous cleanliness, and it seems as though a lot of time and energy here is spent cleaning something. People either hire 'putzfraus' (cleaning ladies), or in many cases, 'hausfraus' (housewives) stay at home and spend a considerable part of their day cleaning their homes and looking after the children. This building in the Old Town is directly across the street from my office, and is home to a combination of small offices and apartments. This putzfrau has been hired by the landlord to clean the common areas of the building and I see her wiping down the windows (inside & out) of the building's stairwell at least once or twice a week. I actually know someone who lives in that building, and she tells me "that poor woman is always, always, cleaning those same windows!" I was sitting at my desk when I took this picture, and a few minutes later, she had moved down one floor to the window at the bottom of the picture.

5 comments:

Abraham Lincoln said...

I really like your photograph and the story you tell about the putzfrau cleaning the common areas. When I first arrived in Japan in 1853, I was stunned at the cleanliness of the Japanese people. I have never seen anything to compare since those days.

Today I show my wife, of 52 years, and President Bush's jet that is carrying his automobiles.

Abraham Lincoln

Sally said...

I have read that it is illegal to use your vaccuum cleaner on a Sunday in Switzerland (or at least some part). Is there any truth to that?

lynn said...

Obviously an obsessive employer, there. Poor woman. What a life.

AinZ said...

abe--thanks for your visit, and best wishes to your wife.

lynn--I don't think it's just the employer that's obsessive. I think people here in general are obsessive about cleaning. those have to be the cleanest windows in Zurich though...

Sally--I really don't think it's illegal to vacuum on Sundays, but I had heard similar rumors, mostly from other expats before moving here. However, the Swiss, particularly the older folks, are really concerned about noise, and Sundays are supposed to be quiet, resting days. Some apartment buildings, mostly older buildings where some of the residents are older and have been living there forever have house rules (outlined in the rental contract) that don't allow noisy activities such as vacuuming, doing laundry hammering (hanging up paintings)"loud" music/TV after 10 pm and on Sundays....I've even heard that there are places where you aren't supposed to shower or flush the toilet after 10pm, but I don't know if there is any truth to that--could be some more expat exageration, or could have been true 50 years ago in older buildings with poor plumbing. It could be that some laws are still on the books somewhere, but were never changed and are no longer enforced...I have heard second hand stories about neighbors making ridiculous noise complaints--if you're lucky, your neighbor will come to you and ask you politely to make less noise, turn down the music, whatever...If you're unlucky, your neighbor can file a complaint with the landlord behind your back, and you'd never know that you were doing something 'wrong.' but personally, have never had any problems. However, I once came home to find a note from our landlord on the main entrance, asking all residents to please wear 'haus shuhe' (slippers) whenever possible, so as not to disturb our downstairs neighbors. I meant to take a picture, but forgot, and then the sign was removed. All this concern over apt/neighbor. noise, yet the Swiss seem to have no problem whatsoever with the really loud church bells (outside my apt.) that go on for 20minutes non-stop every evening and on Sunday mornings!

Ming_the_Merciless said...

Zurich is indeed clean. Your photo explained why. Do Swiss use immigrant workers to do these jobs or do they use Swiss citizens?