As I wrote in my personal blog, I helped my friend and fellow pool player Cristina De La Garza move to Switzerland last October. Little Marco and her needed a travel companion because of the long flights and layovers, as Cristina gets motion sickness and would be traveling with her 8-month son and a lot of luggage. Since it wasn't just a "trip" (she was moving from Texas to Switzerland) she had her hands full. If you wish, you can read about my amazing venture (get your hanky).
While I was in Switzerland, Cristina's fiance', pro player Marco Tshudi, showed us around the city and we ventured to pool rooms (you can view my video tour of the pool room Billiardino) and I also went to a private pool club which I will explain soon.
But what fascinated me most was the culture of Switzerland.
Cristina recently wrote about this in her blog, and it reminded me I had written a similar blog entry about the differences between the U.S. and Switzerland, but had not published it yet. After you read her well-written thoughts, here are my startling revelations:
Basically, I had NO idea about the culture. The country, and it's surrounding neighbors, are EXTREMELY very honest people. Honest to the point that when you visit after growing up in the States, you are alarmed and shocked!
As we drove around one day, Marco pointed to a large strawberry field, where people could just take strawberries and leave however much money they seemed appropriate.
Or, the acre of flowers, people could just pick fresh flowers and then deposit cash in a box - all on the side of the road, unmanned.
I noticed that people would leave out candles on their porches, and maybe flower pots or other personal important things.
I had my bicycle stolen from the THIRD floor on a BALCONY in Fort Worth, Texas in a GATED apartment complex, and over there people were leaving all sorts of things on their first floor porches - where others could just walk right up and touch/grab/take. But, people just wouldn't do that in Switzerland.
In this extremely clean city (Zurich), it's very common to take the buss/train to get around the city - and you pay by the honor system. No one is there to take your money to ride the train. Or to ensure you paid your money.
Something that is nonexistent in America, IMHO.
Marco then shared something very intriguing to me about pool and honesty. And now it makes sense, b/c I have seen how true the honor system is in their country. This is how everyone is raised. It's their belief system.
So, imagine when Marco came to America for a spell a few years ago and he ran into the U.S. road players. He was shocked at their demeanor and rudeness. He even wrote about one of his tournaments in the US and you can read his frustration here in his blog entry from about a year ago.
But it's because of his upbringing and his surroundings that make some of the U.S. players seem very rude.
Marco shared that in Switzerland (and the surrounding countries) that if a person racks and accidentally gives a bad rack, the player feels very embarrassed about it.
Why? Because of their unwritten honor system, it's not proper to give a bad rack. So, they genuinely feel bad about it, even if it's an accident.
Then he comes to America and runs into players that deliberately put "the rack" on their opponents. He is seeing a side of pool he had only heard of. And because these actions go against the way he was raised, it upsets him.
I can only appreciate, truly, how he felt because I understand now about the honor system over in Europe and how everyone is raised.
If I hadn't any knowledge of just how much honor and honesty is engrained in their culture, I would not begin to understand why a bad rack could be embarrassing, or why a deliberate bad rack would upset him so much.
We (in the U.S.) run into dishonest people all the time. We see bad racks, sharking, intentional fouls, theft, cheating, etc. Of course we do. We live in a society that locks their bicycles up on the third floor\balconies, wont leave anything on their porches, and holds our purses tight against our bodies as we walk in the daylight.
I am still so very impressed about their culture! It was an eye opener for sure. Glad I was able to experience it, too!