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Old 03.09.2011, 13:47
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Threatening to call the police - de rigeur?

To start with I'd like to say most of my new neighbours are perfectly friendly, and it's been a great few months thus far.

But here's a couple of incidents.

1) A friend comes to visit me, and leaves his car slightly in front of the neighbour's garage, admittedly somewhat careless. IMO fair enough to leave a note, but did it have to say "we'll call the police"? Consider that we'd visited them in their flat when we moved in and got along fine?

2) My wife parks the car in front of our garage, facing across the street. Another neighbour comes to whine about how it forces people with baby carriages to go onto the road, in a rather rude manner. This is despite plenty of other cars down the road being just as far over the pavement. Also, it's not exactly a busy road, being on the outskirts of town. Earlier, the guy had written a note threatening to call the cops. I'm perfectly happy to let the little people have their way, but I just don't get why you'd make a threat that you'd probably not be able to carry out? Surely you'd be embarrassed when the police came?

Is it just me, or do Swiss cops have nothing to do? Is it simply the cultural norm to threaten with the police action? I'm guessing not, since we did have rather more friendly neighbour ask us to stop drilling when he had friends over. Fair enough as well, and surely it's easier to get people to comply with your wishes when you don't make threats?
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Old 03.09.2011, 13:57
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Re: Threatening to call the police - de rigeur?

I have recently been enlightened by a German friend that Swiss thinks that everyone wants to have a Swiss passport. Therefore if you have a police record of any kind, that will make the renewal of permit and getting the passport more difficult when the time comes.

See about the other thread about someone called the police and it turned out to be false accusation, the accuser was fined and compensation is being paid.

The most important thing is keep record with photo evidence etc so that if police has been contacted, you got your evidence that you done nothing wrong to back you up.

Unfortunately, this is CYA (Cover Your Ass), just like in the Office life!
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Old 03.09.2011, 14:13
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Re: Threatening to call the police - de rigeur?

Something I've been wondering about...

In threads discussing cultural differences in parenting and how children are expected to interact with one another, it is often pointed out that Swiss children are taught to be self-sufficient, to solve their own problems amongst themselves, to do so directly without involving parents or other authority figures.

Why then is it so common for adults to run to authorities (complaint to landlords, to the police, etc.) in the first instance, or to hide behind anonymous notes or accusations? How do you get from one to the other? If taught to solve problems amongst themselves as children, why is reluctance to do so as adults so prevalent?

I'm not taking the P, here - I am truly puzzled by this, and would be interested in your insights.
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Old 03.09.2011, 14:30
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Re: Threatening to call the police - de rigeur?

Thanks Meloncoliie, and interested question. This calling the police thing may well be a town problem. I can't think of anyone here who would not have a quiet word first, try and solve an issue around a cup of coffee or by the garden fence. Perhaps also more an issue in the German speaking part of CH?
Wondering too if it is often a question of language. If the neighbour realises that they do not have the language skills to speak to the person causing the friction, they may feel they have to resort to the authorities? If a person living in a block of flats has introduced him/herself to others, had a chat, maybe a cuppa or a drink - showed that they are trying hard to speak the language (even if they make a pig's ear of it), etc- then it is much more likely they would try 'having a quiet and friendly chat' first.
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Old 03.09.2011, 14:31
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Something I've been wondering about...

In threads discussing cultural differences in parenting and how children are expected to interact with one another, it is often pointed out that Swiss children are taught to be self-sufficient, to solve their own problems amongst themselves, to do so directly without involving parents or other authority figures.

Why then is it so common for adults to run to authorities (complaint to landlords, to the police, etc.) in the first instance, or to hide behind anonymous notes or accusations? How do you get from one to the other? If taught to solve problems amongst themselves as children, why is reluctance to do so as adults so prevalent?

I'm not taking the P, here - I am truly puzzled by this, and would be interested in your insights.
It's all just a big kindergarten , snitching on neighbours is normal & the police have nothing better to do.

Welcome to CH, apparently the best place to live in the world, certainly it's got the pettiest minded people .
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Old 03.09.2011, 14:40
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Re: Threatening to call the police - de rigeur?

...well, there are two ways to look at it, because there are versions of the same dynamic everywhere, just the topic and method of expression vary.

- there are laws regarding passage for baby carriages and other things that people are particularly sensitive to, or use them to reinforce or demonstrate a point rather than to directly say they don't like what you have done. Kids, unfortunately, get threatened by parents,relatives, teachers and other people with the police or some other authority if they don't behave, so they tend to do the same thing without thinking about it when they grow up. Tends to be a Germanic thing, though it may be on the wane now.

- it is always best not to get drawn into conflicts, rather remain reasonable but firm where necessary, as both will eventually be respected. There is a lot of stress, tension and frustration in the air these days with few outlets or solutions, and tends to be let out in farts over petty things. Address them reasonably, but don't take them too seriously.

Given time, you will earn people's trust and respect when you don't go ballistic as they do and much of this stuff will fade away.
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Old 03.09.2011, 15:24
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Re: Threatening to call the police - de rigeur?

You write you didn't leave an 80 cm wide space on the pavement or sidewalk, & your friend stopped a neighbour using his garage, maybe even parked on his land?

Switzerland works like clock work because there are a million rules and regulations about how to live here, and if you don't keep to them it really annoys people. You need to inform yourself about the rules and laws here, or you are going to have more unpleasant experiences.

If your neighbours have the feeling you aren't interested in keeping to the rules, (Imagine you showing them the middle finger?) they will call the police and ask them to enforce the rule you have broken. If you have any questions buy a book about living here, read it and ask your neighbours or Gemeinde for advice. The Police don't have much else to do, so be careful.
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Old 03.09.2011, 15:36
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Re: Threatening to call the police - de rigeur?

Welcome to Switzerland.
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Old 03.09.2011, 16:18
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Re: Threatening to call the police - de rigeur?

If you (being Swiss) leave a note asking the neighbor to move his car, but don't appeal to any authority, at the very least by informing him that he is illegally parked - then by not giving any objective reason you are implicitly telling him that he should move it "because I said so." You don't have the authority to demand that, and so he will naturally bristle. You (being Swiss) know perfectly well that he will bristle, and so phrasing it this way is unduly confrontational of you.

It's seen as less confrontational, and therefore more diplomatic, to cite an authority higher than both of you whenever possible, e.g. the Hauswart or the police. This is also why you leave a note instead of ringing his doorbell to talk about it.

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Old 03.09.2011, 16:30
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Re: Threatening to call the police - de rigeur?

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If you (being Swiss) leave a note asking the neighbor to move his car, but don't appeal to any authority, at the very least by informing him that he is illegally parked - then by not giving any objective reason you are implicitly telling him that he should move it "because I said so." You don't have the authority to demand that, and so he will naturally bristle. You (being Swiss) know perfectly well that he will bristle, and so phrasing it this way is unduly confrontational of you.

It's seen as less confrontational, and therefore more diplomatic, to cite an authority higher than both of you whenever possible, e.g. the Hauswart or the police. This is also why you leave a note instead of ringing his doorbell to talk about it.

It's the world turned upside down, I tells ya.

I see it as this way too, I get a sense of "It's not ME saying that you shouldn't do this you see, but the rules, they say..." and the mention of authority is to reinforce that they don't want confrontation but simply want to see that rules are being adhered to.

I think that people respond to this, not so much "better" as "more efficiently" here. In comparison, in my mother's neighborhood (in US), we had a neighbor who was allowing her 14'ish year old son do target practice with paint-ball gun in the back yard with the "misses" coming to rest someplace in our backyard which meant a minefield of sticky paint balls to nasty up the blades of our mower and shoes, and my dog's paws and so on. So, not liking this, my mother went to have a nice word with the adults of the household and their response basically was "too bad, so sad, if you don't like it, call the police."

The method here cuts out that bit of nastiness in the middle - "I don't like your behavior and more so, it isn't allowed, so if it doesn't stop, I will call the police." Message sent and received without arguments.
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Old 03.09.2011, 23:53
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Re: Threatening to call the police - de rigeur?

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To start with I'd like to say most of my new neighbours are perfectly friendly, and it's been a great few months thus far.

But here's a couple of incidents.

1) A friend comes to visit me, and leaves his car slightly in front of the neighbour's garage, admittedly somewhat careless. IMO fair enough to leave a note, but did it have to say "we'll call the police"? Consider that we'd visited them in their flat when we moved in and got along fine?

2) My wife parks the car in front of our garage, facing across the street. Another neighbour comes to whine about how it forces people with baby carriages to go onto the road, in a rather rude manner. This is despite plenty of other cars down the road being just as far over the pavement. Also, it's not exactly a busy road, being on the outskirts of town. Earlier, the guy had written a note threatening to call the cops. I'm perfectly happy to let the little people have their way, but I just don't get why you'd make a threat that you'd probably not be able to carry out? Surely you'd be embarrassed when the police came?

Is it just me, or do Swiss cops have nothing to do? Is it simply the cultural norm to threaten with the police action? I'm guessing not, since we did have rather more friendly neighbour ask us to stop drilling when he had friends over. Fair enough as well, and surely it's easier to get people to comply with your wishes when you don't make threats?
Yes and No. You can use it the other way round. Once half a year ago I observed some teenagers (some of them possibly ABOVE 20) getting violent (against each others), and, as a passer-by calmly asked one of the more "active" ones "sorry, but is it necessary that somebody calls in the police ? " . He fairly swiftly replied "no, no, we have had a bit of a dispute but it is no problem really". When I came past the place they were in friendly chatting. Swiss ? Maybe. But I had a similar thing once in St. Malo, where two English and three French had a problem and a relatively old Channel Islander tried to mediate. I intervened and asked in English and French whether it was necessary to call the police. We, the old Jersian and me, very swiftly were involved into settling the problem, which turned out to have been a most minor traffic incident.

Sure, people in Switzerland are more prone to threaten to call in the police or actually to DO so by some 300% against average, but US-Americans (to be precise Texans and Louisianans) are 250% against average, Brits when sober about 100% and French even when sober about 75%.
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Old 03.09.2011, 23:55
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Re: Threatening to call the police - de rigeur?

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Something I've been wondering about...

In threads discussing cultural differences in parenting and how children are expected to interact with one another, it is often pointed out that Swiss children are taught to be self-sufficient, to solve their own problems amongst themselves, to do so directly without involving parents or other authority figures.

Why then is it so common for adults to run to authorities (complaint to landlords, to the police, etc.) in the first instance, or to hide behind anonymous notes or accusations? How do you get from one to the other? If taught to solve problems amongst themselves as children, why is reluctance to do so as adults so prevalent?

I'm not taking the P, here - I am truly puzzled by this, and would be interested in your insights.
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Old 04.09.2011, 11:19
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Re: Threatening to call the police - de rigeur?

If you don't quit parking your posts on this thread, I'm going to potentially think about calling the police....
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Old 04.09.2011, 11:42
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Re: Threatening to call the police - de rigeur?

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If your neighbours have the feeling you aren't interested in keeping to the rules, (Imagine you showing them the middle finger?) they will call the police and ask them to enforce the rule you have broken.
Indeed. Hence my advice to always make sure that new comers in a building ask and ask again how things are done. Even if you know the answer. It's about showing that you care and that you actively want to obey rules. If something goes wrong once, you'll have a little "bonus" in their eyes before they start chasing you down/up (I've heard both expressions, please choose the one you prefer).

You don't have to mean it.
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Old 04.09.2011, 11:52
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Re: Threatening to call the police - de rigeur?

So what you're really saying, is that you are unwilling to complain yourself because you haven't the balls to back up your accusation want to abstract the problem and hide behind an anonymous complaint.

In neighbour disputes and the like.there are many sly people who see this custom as a way to get-at their (perhaps foreign) neighbour and interfere in their private sphere...

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I see it as this way too, I get a sense of "It's not ME saying that you shouldn't do this you see, but the rules, they say..." and the mention of authority is to reinforce that they don't want confrontation but simply want to see that rules are being adhered to.
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Old 04.09.2011, 12:07
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Re: Threatening to call the police - de rigeur?

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So what you're really saying, is that you are unwilling to complain yourself because you haven't the balls to back up your accusation want to abstract the problem and hide behind an anonymous complaint.

In neighbour disputes and the like.there are many sly people who see this custom as a way to get-at their (perhaps foreign) neighbour and interfere in their private sphere...

AYB
I'm not saying that I am anything of the sort...

Also, the few times I've gotten notes, they were not threatening at all, nor were they anonymous at all. Our downstairs neighbors, in very politely worded notes, let us know what things were happening that were making life bad for them (such as me running the dishwasher right over their heads at midnight). Even with these nice notes though, the other member of my household was very "oh yeh? well, f them!" so I can understand why folks would want to use notes rather than have face-to-face chats about it.


The "threatening" notes on cars blocking driveways and such, well, the OP said it was a friend's car, not his own, so even if the neighbor in question HAD wanted to be more direct, how do you recommend they go about finding out who belongs to the car?

Out in the country, where it is a house to a house (kinda) in some places, it may be easy enough to figure but in the cities, with blocks and blocks of apartments interspersed with townhomes, unless it is a neighbor who you see getting into and out of a specific car, there is no way to know. Due to parking issues, the 15 cars "in front of" my building could belong to anyone in any of the buildings in my row - or someone who lives around the block even.

So, in cases like that, a note is certainly the way to go. Well, then again, knocking on doors and disturbing ALL the neighbors to finally find out to whom the car belongs is a sure way to let them ALL know that Mr. & Mrs Smith have friends who park wherever they want, not caring who they're blocking... Somehow, I don't happen to think this is "better" but perhaps you do.
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Old 04.09.2011, 12:10
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Re: Threatening to call the police - de rigeur?

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If you don't quit parking your posts on this thread, I'm going to potentially think about calling the police....
There is always a reason to call the police
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Old 04.09.2011, 12:12
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Re: Threatening to call the police - de rigeur?

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You write you didn't leave an 80 cm wide space on the pavement or sidewalk, & your friend stopped a neighbour using his garage, maybe even parked on his land?

Switzerland works like clock work because there are a million rules and regulations about how to live here, and if you don't keep to them it really annoys people. You need to inform yourself about the rules and laws here, or you are going to have more unpleasant experiences.

If your neighbours have the feeling you aren't interested in keeping to the rules, (Imagine you showing them the middle finger?) they will call the police and ask them to enforce the rule you have broken. If you have any questions buy a book about living here, read it and ask your neighbours or Gemeinde for advice. The Police don't have much else to do, so be careful.
So Ambie 26, why the groan? If you are just going to click on groan then run away you are behaving like a young teenager. Let us see some constructive criticism please, by adding to the discussion.

Another point I would like to make is if the neighbour had called the police, the car would have been towed away and the costs would have been paid by the driver, plus a small fine from the police. These would have been at least around CHF 300,-- so I personally would rather have received a note (With or without a signature) as then I would know somone is very upset around here, and I would be extra careful next time!
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Old 04.09.2011, 12:16
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Re: Threatening to call the police - de rigeur?

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If you (being Swiss) leave a note asking the neighbor to move his car, but don't appeal to any authority, at the very least by informing him that he is illegally parked - then by not giving any objective reason you are implicitly telling him that he should move it "because I said so." You don't have the authority to demand that, and so he will naturally bristle. You (being Swiss) know perfectly well that he will bristle, and so phrasing it this way is unduly confrontational of you.

It's seen as less confrontational, and therefore more diplomatic, to cite an authority higher than both of you whenever possible, e.g. the Hauswart or the police. This is also why you leave a note instead of ringing his doorbell to talk about it.

It's the world turned upside down, I tells ya.
Heh, that actually makes sense to me! "If I don't threaten you with police, you'll think I'm just being an asshole!" Too bad they don't see the catch-22 of it.

I can't say I had much of a problem with the rules, which is probably why I'm bothered by the petty threats. Why throw down the gauntlet when I'm perfectly happy to comply anyway, right? I guess they can't tell I'm so easy going.
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Old 04.09.2011, 12:29
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Re: Threatening to call the police - de rigeur?

How about you just stick to the rules and avoid all this drama? Seems much simpler to me. Just because other people seem to think they are above them, doesn't mean you have to be a law-breaking lemming. There is not much space here and a lot of people in it, the rules help keep everyone sane. Or some semblance of it...

As for not sorting out issues, well, sadly, people have this new thing where they call lawyers when you do something they don't like. I'm going before the magistrate on Wednesday because calling someone an Italian (which he is), is apparently a personal insult. So again, it's not just a Swiss thing, other cultures also think higher authority AND asking for money because their feelings are being hurt is how you do it. Hang on, wasn't that the American way?
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