Monday, March 26, 2007

The Invisible Hand Strikes Again

Beer, BBQ, boardgames and...uh...skiing. Is there a word for skiing that starts with B? Too bad I’m not a snowboarder. Anyway, beer, bbq, boardgames and skiing, that pretty much sums up my weekend. I was out with a friends house Saturday for a winter bbq and after nearly having to run to Zurich to bail a colleague out of jail (I’ll get to that in a minute) we decided to stay in and play some boardgames rather than head out to the bar. After a few rousing rounds of that old classic Connect 4 later we got out the mother of all boardgames, Monopoly. This version just happened to be the 1961 German version so all the street names were from Germany and ended in Strasse, the currency was Deutschmarks, the cards were nearly unreadable etc etc., but its still essentially the same game. The main difference was that instead of Jail, they had concentration camps and instead of building hotels on your own property you invade the neighboring property and build military bases. Ok, I made that last part up.

Despite the language barrier I managed to rather easily dominate the whole board and in the end I bankrupted my 3 (now former) friends. Good thing I drove myself. After the game they were discussing why they lost, why I won etc etc but I just listened quietly because the reason is simple-the invisible hand of capitalism always wins in the end!

If you ever find yourself playing monopoly with 3 Germans, a few words of advice.

1-Germans are train crazy so they will always buy the railways for far much more than their really worth. Try to get all 4, it’s a good bargaining chip.

2-Don’t go straight for the hotels, just cover the board with houses.

3-German jail must suck because the get out of jail free cards commanded quite a price. Try to collect a few.

And now to the, perhaps, more interesting story of the evening. Mid bbq I get a phone call from a colleague who was coming in from Spain and flying out to the states the next day. After approaching the customs people to enter Switzerland he was politely informed that he had an unpaid speeding ticket from Feb. and he could either pay 700 Francs on the spot or spend 16 days in Jail.

And welcome to Switzerland.

Did I mention that they don’t take credit cards and had no ATM. Well they don’t, and they didn’t so he called me to see if I could bring some francs up to the airport to keep is ass out of the klink. It was already about 9:00 and the airport is two hrs away so I did what any good friend would do…I told him I was down 3 on a Connect 4 tournament and he would have to wait a few hours. The sacrifices I make..i tell ya.

Luckily I knew yet another colleague who was already in Zurich and leaving the following day for America so phone calls were made, ATM’s visited and jail was narrowly avoided. It does make me wonder though, how bad could Swiss jail really be? Its probably all fondue, chocolate and goofy felt hats. Work detail probably finds you milking cows or churning butter. The exercise yard, yeah, its a ski mtn. Maybe i'll stop paying my speeding tickets, i mean if i ever get one of course.

But there is a lesson in all this…and what’s the lesson kids? Always pay your speeding tickets.

Some of you might’ve thought I would’ve said that the lesson is not to speed, but that’s just crazy talk.

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