Living in Eibenstrasse

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(Mr. Knupp was the landlord of the Eibenstrasse apartment building where most foreigners coming to work for UBS where put.)

When I arrived in Zurich, I didn't have any linens - I needed a pillow, sheets and a blanket. Mr. Knupp kindly offered to lend me all of these things for the duration of my 6 month stay. After about a two weeks, one evening Mr. Knupp came to the door and said he wanted to change my linens. He took the linens off the bed and put new ones on. I'd expected that I'd have to wash my own linens, so this seemed strange. He barely spoke any English so I couldn't ask him why he was doing this. He never did it again. Did he realize that he'd given me his favorite sheets or something?

The front door of the Eibenstrasse building locked behind you automatically like any normal front door would. It could also be double-locked. Knupp insisted that it always be double-locked. In its double-locked state, the door required a key in order to leave the building. I believe that this rule was intended to discourage visitors since a resident would have to walk a visitor out (since it required a key to leave). This offended my sense of personal liberty.

Laundry was a major issue at Eibenstrasse. First of all, the laundry room had ridiculous hours. If I remember correctly, it was open weekdays from 9-7 - or something close to that. The only residents of the building were bank employees who worked during most of those hours. Most people I know do their laundry on weekends. The hours were absurd. And Mr. Knupp patrolled the laundry room with the same ferocity that he patrolled everything else. Leave a small piece of the lint in the dryer and he'd reprimand you. Forget to leave the washing machine door open 0.5 cm so that it'd didn't get any mildew - 2 weeks in jail. Suffice it to say that I gave up on laundry in the building and just went to a laundromat.

When my mother came to visit, the weather was rainy. We went back to my Eibenstrasse apartment so that I could show her the concrete box I lived in. Mom left her wet umbrella in the hallway outside my door. Leaving your wet umbrella outside the door is common practice in the United States (and I suspect elsewhere). It makes a bit more sense if your door actually leads outside, but even so hallways tend to be more "all-weather" and better suited for heavy-use than inside. Not five minutes later, Mr. Knupp was knocking on my door. "Edelman, this is not good," he announced and forced us to bring the wet umbrella inside. What the heck was Knupp doing patrolling the building like this? Wouldn't he rather read a book?

When it was time for me to leave Zurich and I was preparing to leave, I was faced with the problem of what to do with some of the items in my refrigerator. I had some half full bottles of condiments, ketchup, mustard, etc. It's a bit tricky to empty out a ketchup bottle - with a garbage disposal I'd try to do it in the sink, but otherwise, I didn't feel like dealing with it. Glass bottles should be recycled so I didn't want to throw it away, and I didn't want to leave a half full bottle in the recycling bin. Hmmm. So I just put the half full bottles in a bag and left them downstairs next to the recycling bins on my way out to work. When I got home, the bag and the bottles were in my apartment. What was I thinking... that I'd get away with it?

One more for now... the day I left Zurich, I had a rental car filled with all of my worldly belongings parked with questionable legality across the street from the building. I was all set to drive to Brussels and I just needed to hand over the keys to Knupp. Dirk was present to translate. Knupp charged me 100 SFr. because my bathtub wasn't clean enough and needed to be scrubbed. Last time I checked, it takes about 10 minutes to scrub a bath stub - somehow close to $600 an hour for bathtub scrubbing seems excessive, but I paid the fine happily as I knew it was Knupp's last chance to torment me before I became a free man again!

Brad Edelman

Copyright (©) 2007 Dirk Riehle. Some rights reserved. (Creative Commons License BY-NC-SA.) Original Web Location: http://www.riehle.org