What shall we stop being ashamed of?

Welcome to Zurich

by Michelle Steinbeck
published on October 15, 2019

Thought experiment of someone who moved out because she could no longer afford the rent *

Grapes of Wrath? You can look a long time here. Not the right climate. No breeding ground. The fruits of anger cannot grow here. And if one of them grows a plant on her window sill - it won't taste like anything. Ashamed, she will hide the fruits from her acquaintances; Eat them alone and get a stomachache, or let them rot right on the tree.

Welcome to the Zurich stage! The game is played: Everyone is lucky enough to be their own goldsmith and other fairy tales. Stage design: the ridiculously picturesque scenery with water, mountains, old town; Sunset over the Hardbrücke and a bit of milieu romance on Langstrasse to spice it up - sit down and enjoy a vegan tartare with it.

Costume and mask: shiny and elegant, not too extravagant, the main thing is that it is new and expensive. Playing with: Scenes. Bigwigs, Bobos, Hipsters, Alternative ... basically all of the Scenes. And they don't differ much. All cool and hard-working. Where else would you hear in the kitchen of an occupied house: “Where gas? Go do it? Hot!"
That's why it turned out to be a pretty boring piece.

The plot is simple: the characters work and consume. They say: "For öppis gömmer yes go create." Sometimes they complain that they work 9 to midnight. Then they say: "But if I cut back, I would not be able to maintain my standard of living." And draw another line.

Every few days they go to the neighborhood festival, i.e. to view an apartment in District 3 (open-ended old building, almost affordable). There they stand in line and joke: "Giz öpis gratis?" And if someone then takes a crushed fruit of anger out of their Gucci bag from the Bürkli-Flomi and shouts: "Hello, we are 300 people here for an apartment that is already under hand anyway, there is a structural problem here!" Then the choir 300 lifts forefingers and sings: “Musch halt me ​​create. Living in Zurich is a privilege, if it is too expensive for you, it is probably not worth it. " The choir turns away and mumbles to each other: “It's true. Anyway, we have a red-green government, it can't be that bad. " And then they tell adventure stories of how they called for the city apartment and once more failed to get through. “Me too,” laughs the choir, “me too”.

But where are everyone else? - Who? You mean «the precariat»? There are, but not on stage. They are in the background, like set workers, they keep the theater going. Or they don't even dare to go out. They don't feel comfortable in the spotlight; what are they supposed to play? They can neither consume properly nor produce themselves profitably. We don't want to shame them in front of everyone - the so-called welfare state takes care of that.

Zurich wasn't always like this. And it doesn't have to stay that way. But in order to rewrite the piece, we first have to become aware that we are actually playing. That we dressed up, back then when we were 15 on Ladies Night: The shoes were 3 sizes too big, stolen from a friend's Gold Coast mother. And with the free drinks there were old gentlemen's grabs for free.

We're so used to playing rich that we think we're actually rich. Why else do we vote against any tax reform that even remotely strives for a fairer redistribution - which would actually benefit us?

We play against each other. We should stop and start improvising. Perhaps use climate change to grow the fruits of anger on a large scale. Before you lose your apartment and move to Aargau. And the city will completely become the extinct «Zureich» amusement mile.

* based on René Pollesch and Dirk von Lowtzow

Michelle Steinbeck (1990 *) grew up in Zurich and now lives in Hamburg. She is the senior editor of the factory newspaper and a student of philosophy and sociology. She writes stories, poems and plays, columns and reports. Her debut novel "My father was a man on land and a whale in the water" was nominated for the German and the Swiss Book Prize.