Thursday, October 17, 2013

'Taeschligate' and other misunderstandings.


'Ich habe sie sofort erkannt', erzählte die Trois Pommes Verkäuferin.

It would seem that at least one saleswoman in Zurich knows of Oprah Winfrey.  Winfrey, in town for Tina Turner's wedding this past summer, was recognised by a Trois Pommes employee, but, sadly, not the one who had allegedly refused to show her the desired handbag.  Little good being known would have done Winfrey, apparently, for the saleswoman went on to say:  

'Aber hier hätte sie sich eh nichts kaufen können, denn für diese Kleider ist Oprah Winfrey viel zu dick – ihre Grössen führen wir gar nicht!'

Winfrey would also not have been sold any articles of clothing at the retailer because she is 'too fat' and they don't stock her size.  Fair enough not to stock sizes for 'larger' women, I suppose, but aren't handbags one-size-fits-all?

Tina Turner and Oprah Winfrey

Living in Zurich, I have browsed in a few high-end shops along the Bahnhofstrasse.  After schlepping myself into these 'jet-setter' boutiques, I can tell you this: I may be white, but I am neither rich, nor excessively thin.  That means that I, too, would have been denied being shown a 35'000 CHF handbag.  A bit has been made in some articles I've read regarding the language around wanting to see the handbag.  Supposedly, Winfrey said she'd like 'to look' at the bag, while the saleswoman claimed to have asked Oprah if she'd like to be 'shown' the bag.  In English, 'to look' and 'to be shown' can mean the same thing.  I think the problem was simply one of not understanding what the other person meant.  This led to Winfrey being shown bags she had not asked to see, and, in turn, her feeling, perhaps, insulted.  In any case, the whole affair seems to be much ado about nothing.

Yesterday, on the recommendation of a colleague, I checked out a high-end jeweler in the heart of Zurich's ritzy shopping area, not far from where Ms. Winfrey was shopping.  The colleague told me that I might do well to speak English in the shop as it may signal that I was a 'somebody'.  I forgot to do so and instead spoke my supposed *'Dutch-inflected' Hochdeutsch with the jeweler.

I explained the problem: my wedding ring has a bit of a crimp in the crown that holds the gemstone thus making the whole thing look a bit slanted.  I'm keen on having it either be fixed or changed entirely.

Not only was the man not really listening to what I was saying regarding the ring, he went straight to the cost of the procedure by asking, 'How much are you willing to pay?'  I hadn't actually thought that far ahead.  I initially just wanted to know, if he could a) foresee doing anything creative and constructive with the ring and b) tell me if the ring, as it was, was structurally sound.  He told me that the ring's crown wasn't very sturdy, but he could straighten out the crimp and quoted a price that was slightly more than what I had paid to have the ring made.  In essence, the ring could be made to look nice, but the problem of its instability would remain.  For that I could expect to pay upwards of 500 CHF.  I would have perhaps been willing to pay the quoted price, but it seemed that the shop wasn't desperate for new clients.  For them, my business was probably 'small peanuts'.  I thanked the man for his time and left the shop.  Perhaps I misread the situation as Ms. Winfrey may have misread hers, but it's the vibe that counts, niet waar?

I now have a recommendation for a jeweler located at the far end of Kreis 7, away from downtown.  Fingers crossed that the interaction goes a bit better!

*People have often asked me if I were from the Netherlands because of how I speak German.  I take it as a compliment.

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