Why I am in love with SBB, CFF, and FFS (which does not stand for “for f***’s sake”)

Literally, the only relationship I have had for the past few years that never disappoints me is my relationship with the public transportation system in Switzerland.

Not kidding. It is a love affair. I am truly in love and it will never go away. Okay, maybe we will fight? I hope not. If we fought and I won, I would like to have the tilting train removed from my trips to the Romandie. If we fought and I lost, I would  agree to sit in the kids’ wagon for a month and babysit.

Here’s are 3 things I noticed on Sunday.

The train station in Zurich is AMAZING. They renovated it. Same in Geneva. This is only a good thing. It brings more businesses into the train station, which gives the majority of shop owners a break on Sundays (train stations are open, but 99.999999% of stores are not). It makes the train stations a place of commerce, instead of a place to (sorry) take a potty break. Sometimes on the ground (I’m looking at you, Grand Central Station where I saw a man go number 2!!).

Luzern recently redirected traffic leading into its train station. One lane is reserved for buses, taxis, etc. That is making major traffic for the cars in other lane. Hey, guess what? Don’t take your car. Take the bus or, gasp, WALK. Luzern, win-win from y’all! And, they’re renovating their train station, too. Amazing.

The last thing is crucial. The people employed by SBB (for the most part and I mean EVERYONE I’ve encountered and I take/arrange public transportation more than most) speak multiple languages, attempt to be friendly, and willingly engage in conversation with customers. There is a premium on customer service with SBB/CFF/FFS and the regional service providers.  That’s not so common these days. Non-natives like me appreciate knowing more about the best route from Bubikon to Wankdorf (not joking). It’s nice to chat about this with Beat, who comes from Riffelberg, speaks about 20 languages, and can tell me everything about the route, including how many dairy cows I will see. Bravo employees of the public transportation system in Switzerland. Seriously.

Look, I am someone without tons of money. I still invest in my yearly SBB pass (called a “GA” say it outloud and laugh, please. It’s a general pass for all the trains, trams, buses, ships, donkeys, elephants, etc. http://www.sbb.ch/en/travelcards-and-tickets/railpasses/ga.html). Why? Because They make my life infinitely easier and more pleasant. Traveling by train, even in the Kinderwagon, is civilized (for God’s sake, you can drink! ON THE TRAIN!), easy, dependable, and keeps another car off the road.

I’m in love. It’s funny because my “first train” ride in Zurich was my move. The train came from Munich. It was a horrible storm (this is not a joke) and the train hit a fallen tree, derailed, and we had to walk to the nearest bus, in the rain. The journey usually takes about 3 hours, I think. It took me 10 hours to get to Zurich.

But, it was a DB. Not SBB. 😉

I love you, SBB. I just wish I could tweet my love. Fix your Tweeter feed!!

(PS- Can you please talk to ZVV and have them make my train orange again? It goes better with my book. Thanks.)

“I Don’t Want To”

At least 20 times a day, I am faced with the internal answer, “I don’t want to.” I usually ignore it. Why?

I’m an adult.

“I don’t want to” is a selfish answer. It is rarely, I’ve found, the right answer. Here’s my example.

Yesterday, I had the entire day planned from sun up to sun down. The crucial hour was the one between physical therapy and home. I needed to catch my train to get home to bake the birthday cake. I am in Switzerland. My train comes on time, two times an hour. Punkt.

After PT, I got on the tram. I put on my headphones and started my NYC streets focus. I would have 7 minutes to get my little orange train. This young guy kept making eye contact with me and it looked like he was trying to talk. “I don’t want to” was in my head and I kept listening to Van Morrison’s Plan B album.

But, the guy came over to me. I removed the earbud and trying to find out what he was saying even though I didn’t want to.

He was sick. Really sick. In fact, he almost passed out on me.

He was only trying to tell me that he needed some water.

I helped him off the tram and into a seat, fetched some water and crackers, and sat with him. He’d just had a long day, not enough water, and got dehydrated. It was simple.

I thought about it a lot this morning. My initial “I don’t want to” almost hindered me from doing exactly what I want to do with my life…help people in need of help. This is the rather quiet way I “Catholic Buddhist” in the world. I save the bible beating and “mean Messiah”-ing to others. I sort of do my own thing.

This morning, I also remembered Moni. She was just about to finish a triathlon last year when a man fell in front of her. Instead of listening to an “I don’t want to” because of exhaustion, self-determination, desire for a good time, etc., she stopped. When she realized he was very ill, she stayed with him. He died. Imagine if she had listened to all the reasons she “didn’t want to?” God bless my Moni. She’s one of my heroes.

I didn’t get the cake done because I didn’t make my train.

I made brownies instead. Is Martha Stewart going to give them a prize?…uh, no. But, we all ate them (not me, don’t like sweets) and had a great laugh. At a table full of good friends, everyone ate one of these “charming” brownies…even the people that probably “didn’t want to.” 😉

The "I Didn't Want To" brownies