Oct 08 2009

On lunchboxes and laundry

by at 7:18 pm

As everyone who knows me knows, I generally appear in public as a packmule, carrying at least two bags at all times. Last year I desperately tried to shove my lunch into my backpack, which I had purposely gotten in tinier size so I couldn’t physically carry more. But as I was already regularly carrying a tote of library books and purse almost every day as well, it did not work out so well. Floating apples = dirty apples, floating yogurt = exploded yogurt + yogurt-covered coursepacks, floating sandwich = squashed sandwich, etc. I think also that there is something distasteful about sticking food into a plastic bag and then reusing it (not to mention I always refuse these at stores so we don’t have a huge collection).  Anyway, the point of all this is to say, Switzerland does not have lunchboxes.

To fill this hole in my life, last spring, I asked my parents to bring me a lunchbag.  It was an improvement, but its shape did not fit well into my backpack and it was not so great for organizing the items that generally go in my lunch, so I got one of these nifty LL Bean soft lunchboxes during August to bring back. And it has been great. My lunch stays cool and organized, plus it is squishable into by backpack if it’s not too full or easily carried outside with its own handle.  Today, when my yogurt exploded, it remained contained in the lunchbox.

I suppose the lack of Swiss lunchboxes seems not all the remarkable, but it does beg the question, how does everyone else carry their lunches? No one else seems to be enduring the exploded yogurt, the squished sandwich, or the plastic bag carrying. This is a mystery quite related to the whole enigmatic issue of when people here eat and what they eat and how they afford it.  I am always the only person eating at school.  Everyone else just seems to smoke.  Only my fellow choristers seem to eat like normal humans.  Plus the way things are scheduled in Switzerland, there is never an allowance for dinner.

Anyway, my new lunchbox has been garnering lots of attention! The president of my choir said to me yesterday, “Oh, wow, that’s a super cool American lunch box!” (the term in French she used? boite de lunch, I guess because that concept doesn’t exist here and thus there is no real word for it.) And my professor remarked on it, too, wondering why I would carry a special item for the purpose of carrying my lunch. And to that I respond (not to the professor), I don’t know, it’s not all that special, but how do YOU carry your lunch? Do you just always buy lunch so you don’t have to carry it? The answer is vague…the choir president said it just goes floating in whatever other small bag a Swiss person is carrying (how does everything they need fit into the small bags they carry???) or doesn’t come along at all or I don’t know. This is a very confusing question for Swiss people, who have somehow never thought about the problem of carrying lunch.

You might also notice the word “laundry” in the title of this post. Lunch and laundry are related, as you learned last week, .  Plus we also love talking about laundry since it is such a huge issue in our Swiss lives (every other Monday, 2:30 to 9 pm with one washer and one dryer).  On Tuesday, the two of us went to a students’ dinner in the Lausanne sukkah and met some nice, young Jews. Another American who goes to school with Seth was complaining that his laundry machine ALSO takes a lunch break. Who knew this was such a widespread phenomenon? Anyway, the Swiss-Jews at our table listened to this and felt the need to add a word of explanation. One agreed with us that this was a problem of a peak energy usage around 11 am and that all washing machines go off automatically to save energy at this expensive hour. The other reasoned that the explanation for why there was a peak around 11 am was because everyone in Switzerland cooks their lunch then. ???  Right. Ok, fine, energy is in high demand at that time for some reason, probably unrelated to lunch-cooking since no one eats lunch anyway, but tell me this, Switzerland. If you are so energy conscious, WHY CAN’T WE DO OUR LAUNDRY AT NIGHT OR ON SUNDAYS?! And why can’t other energy-intensive operations also happen then? Boo.

4 responses so far

4 Responses to “On lunchboxes and laundry”

  1. Lizon 11 Oct 2009 at 2:08 pm

    I will never tire of stories involving the Swiss and ridiculous laundry practices.

  2. Jackieon 11 Oct 2009 at 4:36 pm

    Well, that is good news, because we do like talking about laundry. Speaking of which, laundry day tomorrow!

  3. christineon 16 Oct 2009 at 7:20 pm

    LOL. maybe you live in a country full of robots.

    also, you could put your yogurt in a plastic bag… you can reuse the bag because the yogurt is (when not exploded) not in direct contact with the bag. or you can eat it out of the bag

  4. […] is the Swiss custom of bringing along sandwich parts.  Whenever people pack their own lunch (never in a lunchbox, mind you), which is a rare enough occasion in itself, they call it a picnic.  Yesterday, CJL had […]

Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply