France and Switzerland seem like unlikely neighbours to me. The French love slow time while the Swiss love to keep time. Some of my French friends park illegally and don’t care while a Swiss person can book their neighbour for parking in a car-free neighbour’s allotted spot. France is still learning what the internet is all about while the Swiss tourism people have already embraced social networking to make personalised advertisements starring you.
In a country where the tunnels near Geneva airport sometimes smell of peach cleaning product, Switzerland takes the cake for being efficient. And that’s why I was surprised when these doors appeared across the car park at Geneva airport when I tried to leave. My passengers, eager to get on the piste, had already been held up for an hour getting through airport security. They tried to hide their impatience.
I buzzed a nearby airport intercom and explained in French that some doors were closed and I couldn’t exit the car park. The guy clearly thought I was a nutter, but said he would come down. Minutes passed so I called again. The man said he was still on his way.
Five minutes passed and a queue of cars had built. This didn’t feel like Switzerland at all! A driver asked me what was happening, then he swore into the intercom and eventually, two workers arrived and looked surprised at the closed doors. After some discussion, they overrode the automatic closure system and manually forced the doors open, grunting along the way.
Just a few minutes later, we were moving at the speed of a tortoise with a hangover thanks to a car accident and the chaos of no traffic police. I wondered if we were really in efficient Switzerland until the smell of peach cleaner returned as we crawled through a tunnel. My friends managed half a day on the piste. It would have been less had I not made a new car parking space near the ticket office.