Michaela Merz

Lecturing at Zurich University

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As a student at Zurich University I wished that one day I would return as a lecturer. Not an easy wish, if one does not aspire an academic career.

As a tax adviser at the beginning of my career I had various tasks. And one of the many tasks I was requested to do was to prepare the script and lecture for a tax lecture, which one of our very experienced partners was doing. That was good fun. I worked flat out, created the companies Merz AG and Herz AG, which I merged, demerged and liquidated on paper. I submitted my work and as so often did not receive any feedback.

Half a year later I had a phone call from this partner.

“Michaela, I am stuck in London at the airport and the flight is delayed”, he said.

I did not understand why he was calling and telling me this.

“I’m sorry for that” I answered sympathetically.

“Michaela, you have to give this lecture for me today at Zurich University. It starts at 4pm. I won’t manage.”

I thought he had mistaken me for someone. This had nothing to do with me.

“I don’t know what lecture you are talking about”, I said quietly.

“Michaela, the one you prepared so well. All documents are with Felix and be on time. I have to go now and board the plane. Good luck.” He said and hung up.

I had no idea what lecture he had been talking about and did not feel very well. But it is hard to disagree with a silent phone. So I got the documents from Felix and realised that these are my Merz and Herz companies. I had three hours left until the start of the lecture. My dream of lecturing at Zurich University was within reach. But it happened under pretty adverse circumstances and I was not looking forward to it. I was afraid of failing. But I applied myself to it and used the remaining two hours to prepare best possible. Then I took the tram and went with shaking knees to the university. I was nervous. Very much.

Before the lecture I had to go to the toilette. I was wearing black trousers with a long zip at the side. In my nervousness I quickly pulled up the trousers and wanted to close the zip. And exactly at that moment the zip broke. I was standing in the bathroom with broken trousers, 10 minutes before the start of the lecture and felt like crying. I had no belt and no button. The only possibility was to hold the trousers with one hand to avoid it slipping off. But then I had an idea and went to the cloak room. There I got three tiny safety pins, with which I managed to close my trousers provisionally.

Two minutes before the start I arrived in the full lecture hall. I was soaked in sweat. I was standing behind the speaker’s desk, with the right hand holding my trousers, scared that they might come down in the middle of the lecture despite the safety pins. Luckily enough, nothing happened.

I rattled off the lecture without moving, standing like an ice statue. When the bell finally rang, I was relieved. My wish had become true but it did not bring joy; I was just relieved that everything went well.

That way I learned that it is not always desirable to have a wish become true. The longing for it was definitely sweeter.

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