I wrote yesterday that we were finished with the fussy bureaucratic details of our move to Switzerland, but I was wrong about that. We had still to open a Swiss bank account.
You need either $40,000 or a residency card to open an account in this country. Being innately frugal, we waited for our residency cards, although I was tempted to stash a bunch of money in a Swiss bank account, because I understand that with the $40,000 we would get our own exclusive account manager who on every transaction would meet with us behind closed doors to discuss our finances.
This would be a step-up from the usual in-bank conversations we’ve had in Canada and the U.S., which features us reading out our account numbers at a counter in the middle of the bank within hearing of any strangers who happen to be loitering about.
Switzerland is funny about money. When I chanced by our hotel’s general manager in the street yesterday, I asked in a nonchalant manner what he was doing, and in a normal voice, he said, “Taking the hotel’s money to the bank.”
I took a step back, just to get out-of-the-way of the unsavory character who would surely appear, club the man and make off with the cash, but that did not happen. The manager acted like walking around with bags of corporate cash was a pretty normal and safe thing to do in Switzerland. What do I know?
Banks here look very much like banks in Canada, at least those that are still housed inside vintage stone buildings, except they have rabbits and dogs.
Easter decorations are everywhere and in our bank that means a family of cute little bunnies are in-residence in the centre of the bank. They appear very happy. No one has told them that one block away butchered rabbit carcasses are on display in the grocery store’s meat section. I wish I did not know that.
Meanwhile, a large black dog accompanied by a woman strolled through the bank, giving the bunnies a friendly hello (we hope it was friendly). The woman didn’t have a uniform, and neither did the dog so they clearly were not the bank’s security detail, although the dog looked like he could easily have handled that job.
Our account manager (who met with us behind a closed glass door) says dogs are welcome in most business establishments.
It’s true. We’ve seen a chocolate lab lazing on a bar floor (not passed out cold, as one would expect from a labrador retriever, but lazing), bichon frises sniffing the goods in the housewares department, and assorted other breeds enjoying the rigours of retail.