My friend Paul and I spent the day in Zurich, where his parents live and where he is spending his vacation. I came down for the weekend on my way to Germany to visit relatives. A couple things we experienced today struck me as interesting.
I was impressed but puzzled when Paul showed me a telephone booth that plays what you might call “elevator” music — only in Switzerland. I didn’t figure out whether the music would mute itself if you actually made a phone call. I hope so; otherwise I’d consider this more of a distraction than a feature.
Another thing worth mentioning is how hot it is here. I have always thought of Switzerland as a winter paradise, but now I realize the snowy magic isn’t a year-round phenomenon. Of course, all the heat made us thirsty, so we stopped at a little cabana near Lake Zurich for a tiny glass of water — which cost us more than $3. I have always loathed paying for water, but I’ve kind of grown accustomed to doing it in Europe. But just as we left, walking along the shore of the lake, we found a public exhibit on freshwater management where attendants were giving away free cups of water. Later we encountered numerous water fountains — a concept I thought was foreign to Europeans, because I don’t think I have ever seen a water fountain on this continent.
Now, here’s the language puzzle of the day, brought to you by Paul, who, as a native French-speaker, is naturally hypercritical (and jealous, perhaps?) of the English language: Why do we call it a water fountain? Are there any other kinds of fountains? I had to concede the fellow had a point.