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Put That Racist Shovel Away, Lady

, , , , | Friendly | August 26, 2021

It is very common in blocks of flats in Zurich that the flats share laundry facilities. I am a Brit living in Switzerland, living in a flatshare that is very culturally diverse.

It is the morning after I have done the laundry and I am eating breakfast just before heading to work. It’s about eight when the doorbell rings. I think it is the postman, and I am trying to get an answer on the intercom downstairs when there is a knock on the door to the flat.

Standing outside is the crazy lady. Every block of flats will have one of these: too nosy for her own good and very controlling.

Neighbour: “Did you use the washing machine last night?”

Me: “Yes.”

Neighbour: “You left it in a mess! You need to clean up after yourself!”

She rants for a bit and I listen politely.

Me: “I will be more careful in the future.”

This is where it gets interesting.

She then starts going on about how the immigrants in the flat keep making a mess of things, including the “dirty Tamils” (by which she means the lovely Indian family on the floor below). Very uncomfortable at this stage, I try to extricate myself — I do need to leave soon for my train — but she keeps ranting on, and as she is standing in the doorway I can’t just close it. My boyfriend appears at this point wondering why I have been at the door for so long.

At some point, she notices my accent.

Neighbour: “Where are you from?”

Me: “The UK.”

She tries to backpedal.

Neighbour: “Oh, I am not talking about all immigrants, just the ones from outside Europe.”

She then notices my boyfriend.

Neighbour: “And where are you from?”

Boyfriend: “Brazil.”

She then goes on a rant about how dangerous Brazil is and how I must be glad the UK is so safe. My German flatmate pops his head round the door at this point to also ask what is going on. Suddenly, the lady realises she has insinuated that my boyfriend is one of these “bad immigrants” and backtracks further.

Neighbour: “Oh, I didn’t mean all non-European immigrants, just the ones from China.”

With perfect timing, my flatmate’s Chinese girlfriend appeared just as the lady finished her sentence. Looking at all these foreign faces, the lady realised the GIANT hole she had dug for herself. And without another word, she just turned on her heel and walked downstairs. I managed to close the door before everyone there burst out laughing at her stupidity and racism.

The punchline of the whole story? [Neighbour] isn’t even Swiss; she is a German immigrant. Sadly, she didn’t learn her lesson and later posted some quite racist remarks next to the lift. We reported her to the landlord and the police. From what I understand, she is on a warning, and if she pulls a stunt like this again, she will be chucked out for harassment with possible police involvement.

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