Saturday, January 23, 2010

A dirty secret

Switzerland is clean. Super clean. In fact, if you come to visit us, the first thing you'll notice when you get off the airplane in the US is how filthy the US is--compared to Switzerland.

I've been under the impression that the Swiss are just naturally clean people, but I have recently changed my mind. I think their impulses towards messiness are the same as ours, but their dedication to cleaning is much higher.

Tons of people smoke and they drop their cigarette butts on the ground at the tram stops. But, every day the place gets cleaned up by a dedicated employee. Even the ticket machine gets wiped down. You see, it's not that the Swiss hands that punched the buttons to get the tickets don't have the same dirt on them as their NYC counter parts, it's just that someone thoroughly cleans those machines regularly.

(Of course, because they are cleaned regularly, there are fewer dirty hands. Dirt begets dirt and cleanliness begets cleanliness. There is undoubtedly a sacrament meeting talk in all of this, but I'll leave that for another day.)

This has been brought to the forefront of my brain because it is our family's turn to clean the church. Each family takes responsibility for cleaning the church for a month.

I have discovered that Swiss people also leave cracker crumbs and Cheerios on the floor. (This is extra curious because you can't buy Cheerios in Switzerland, yet they are there. It must be the 11th commandment or something--take Cheerios to church for toddler.*) The seminary students do not clean up after themselves, and dirty dishes are in the sink.

But, the building is always spotless on Sunday because someone cleans it. Now, a confession. When I was told how to clean the church (the list of tasks is in German, of course. I did not know the word for chalkboard, so I needed a bit of help with the interpretation.) I was told it would take about 4 hours worth of work to do the building.

Fine and good, but this is week number 3 and the longest it's taken is 2.5 hours worth of work. Hmmmm. Obviously, I am missing something. (The fact that I can't read the list probably plays into this.) I'm sure my fellow church members are sitting their during Sunday School, mumbling to themselves, "whoever was in charge of cleaning this week sure didn't straighten the curtains properly" and "what were they thinking? The cleaners didn't use a toothbrush around the light switches!"

I'm glad we only have one more week of cleaning, although it's been a good experience for all concerned. It's even made Daniel less freaked out at nursery, since he gets to play in there while we clean without the threat of an actual non-parental adult in there.


  1. Well, the folks at the doylestown ward are now required to clean the chapel since the cleaning person got a new job. The church also has a hiring freeze so not a new cleaner is in sight. We are actually doing it every other month, sharing the duties with souderton.

    You don't realize how dirty the chapel gets until you have to vacuum it. There is food and paper remnants and just about everything else left behind. There was even a primary thing with pictures containing glitter. Guess where the glitter has ended up. You guessed it, every imaginable place and it doesn't vacuum up.

    The bathrooms should be steam cleaned but we can't figure out a way to do that.

    I don't think we have a list of what needs to be done either in english or german. There are multiple families each week so it is a fun bonding experience.

    Shouldn't you have learned to read german by now?

  2. I should have learned to read German by now. I ca read a lot, but there are about 40 different words for "clean" and I only know 2 of them. It's a complicated language.

    How come some enterprising teenager in Doylestown hasn't offered to take people's turns at cleaning in exchange for $100 or so? I know lots of people who would pay that.