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The Survivor's Guide to Geneva 2003

Guard against casual dress, Swiss waiters, crap accommodation, dish-washer detergent and mad women professing their undying love

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Tero Kuittinen is a survivor of Telecom 99, the international beanfeast for phone jockeys. Learn from his mistakes and you won't go far wrong, when the show next lumbers into action in 2003. * Wear a black suit and an expensive tie every damn day. It's possible to dress casually and get taken seriously at the booths... if you're Steve Ballmer. But most likely you get transferred to a 23-year old sales droid pre-programmed with 15 company slogans. Sweating like a hog in a suit is a small problem compared to this. * Think twice before booking a room in a student dormitory (if the alternative is a hotel in Lausanne). I chose proximity over comfort. I also expected that, after paying the high-way robbery room rates, there would be some soap, perhaps even shampoo in the communal shower room. I ended up sneaking into the communal kitchen and stealing some dish-washing detergent. After realising my mistake -- in the middle of my shower -- a crying woman started banging on the door and bawling: "Je t'aime, je t'aime". She had the wrong door. I'm not saying that driving 100 miles to a hotel is a better option; you just need to know what to expect. * Learn to understand and exploit cultural differences. It's not constructive to seethe in anger if you get the worst table in the restaurant and sub-par service after the waiter has decided that foreigners deserve no better. Getting even is much better than getting mad. My favourite approach is a demonic strategy called The Texas Gambit. - order some heavy red wine with the salmon and mispronounce the menu items - eat your salad with the inner fork - ask for some ketchup with the veal (when the waiter brings it, ask politely if they wouldn't have Heinz, like other high-class joints) - slap the maitre d' jovially on the back while leaving the restaurant It's not necessary to get the accent right. Foreign movies are all dubbed in Switzerland so they probably can't tell the difference. Using this tactic doesn't make your service any better... but seeing the aristocratic Swiss waiters twitching in impotent rage is always therapeutic. ® Related stories Telecoms 99: The winners and the (many)losers The Future is bright, the future is wireless

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