Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Feeling smug

Well, wouldn't you be? When I was in a bookstore the other day I went to the till and had a short exchange with the sales assistant. When I had to say to her that I didn't understand Swiss German, she looked very shocked and appologised because SHE THOUGHT I WAS SWISS!!!!!!. And then, an hour or so later in a coffee shop, when I used German to say to the (local Swiss) assistant that I didn't speak Swiss German she asked me whether it was English or German that I spoke! Yeehah! - the thrill of not being automatically recognised as a native English speaker as soon as I open my mouth>

And you know, I need moments like this. Last Friday I went to the Univerity of Zürich library to join and find some books. Oh my giddy aunt. After battling with the registration system, I was finally able to locate the books. Rather, I was in a position to fail to find the books. First off, the novels that I was looking for were on level 03. That's the lower basement. Having gone down the stairs in to the upper level of the basement I couldn't find any more stairs. Feeling really stupid, I went back up and was told that I needed to use the lift to access that area. What followed next was tedious and embarrassing. Let's just say that what I was standing beside pushing buttons on for about 5 minutes, was not the lift, and then let us move on...

Of course, finding the correct stack was only half the battle. The books are classified,Jim,but not as you know it. Let's take Alice Hoffman as an example. I want one of her books that was published in 1998, and one that was published in 2006. In the UK they would be on the same shelf. But I am not in the UK. The 2006 book is on an entirely different set of shelves from the 1998. Yep - books are shelved by year of publication. Added to this is the fact that when I look at the catalogue I cannot see anything that might indicate whether or not the book is actually on the shelf. Most of the times I would find the number of the book before and the number of the book after...

Well, it was a bit of an education, one way or another.

Still, I managed to calm my battered ego with a(nother) trip to Cakefriends. Man, I love that place :0)


  1. You should be seriously smug that you have become not immediately identifiable as someone British when you open your mouth. It's a big achievement, and so few of us get there.

    I'm really enjoying your new life vicariously. And should you need fibre, I now have an Etsy shop (d&r....)

  2. congratulations on passing linguistically!
    I don't know how the libraries were organised, but a lot of the bookstores in Poland were organised according to publishing company.