Michaela Merz

Swiss National Wrestling Festival (Eidgenössisches Schwingfest) Zug 2019, Pratteln 2022

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Half of Zug turned into a pedestrian area and a party street.

I’ve never experienced the city like this before. It was impossible to think of having a good night’s sleep from Saturday night to Sunday.

The loud drunken voices easily broke through the double glazed windows. I wasn’t too impressed by 4 a.m. but since it’s a once in a life time situation I decided to put up with it. As soon as the last drunken people disappeared at 5.a.m., the first spectators swarmed in shortly after 6 a.m., marching towards the arena to view the Sunday matches.

Beneath my window there was a relentless stream of people between Friday and Sunday in Edelweiss shirts, traditional costumes with hats and without. You have to keep in mind that Zug has around 130000 inhabitants. This weekend there were an additional 400000 people and nearly all of them marched past my window. Observing them was in some cases just as interesting as viewing the matches in the arena.

The Swiss wrestling festival was amazing, thought through down to the very last detail, perfectly organized from the waste disposal, security and transportation concept down to the arena, number of toilets and overall program. All of it took place in a very relaxed atmosphere. Somehow exactly how you’d imagine Switzerland to be. What impressed me the most was the cleaning troupe. No idea how many people were involved with cleaning the area. As soon as a piece of paper was dropped to the ground there was a worker, ready to dispose of it correctly. At the party street with over a thousand people it always looked as if they had just started the festival. That’s how clean and proper it was. And Marta and her Husband provided the story for the event.

Marta’s husband always goes to the National wrestling event. That’s ok with Marta. Hans spends two days there with his dad who, coincidentally, is also called Hans. They sleep at the arena in a mass accommodation so that it doesn’t get too pricey. They return Sunday Evening, tired from a lack of sleep, many emotions and alcohol but always very content.

The relationship between Marta and Hans used to be better but both are quite pragmatic, value what they’ve got and after 12 years of marriage and three children you cannot expect much more. On Saturday evening their youngest climbed onto the plum tree in the neighbor’s garden. A branch caved and he fell to the ground. Marta’s oldest, only 12 but tall and strong carried the little 7 year old home. It was shortly before 9 pm in the evening and it had started to get dark. The youngest cried out in pain. They had laid him down onto the sofa in the living room and Marta checked what damage had been caused by the fall. As she held up the slightly bent right arm and the little one started to scream she noticed that a bone was sticking out of the lower part of his arm. However, he wasn’t bleeding. Marta decided straight away to drive him to the children’s hospital. He had obviously broken his arm and god knows what else. Marta put him into the car, left the other two boys at home and told them to go to bed at 10 p.m. She shook slightly because she was scared but she knew that she had to remain calm. On the way she called her husband Hans but she couldn’t get hold of him. She left a voicemail. There was no free parking space at the children’s hospital and so she parked her car in front of the no parking sign and carried her son into the hospital. She forgot to lock her car and even left the door open. The waiting time in the clinic was painfully long. The little one was restless and must have been in pain. Marta did everything to calm him down. When the doctor finally examined him, he told her that her little one had to have an operation right away and that he would get metal wires in his lower arm. Marta’s husband still hadn’t called back. She sent him a text message, a whatsapp message and tried to call him several times more. Without success. The doctor said that the operation could take up to two hours. Marta sat down in the corridor in front of the operating room. It got very quiet, she was alone. Finally the phone rang, it was nearly midnight. Hans called her. Marta explained the situation to him and asked him to come to the children’s hospital. Hans suggested that it wouldn’t make any sense to do so, he couldn’t do anything about the situation, had drank alcohol and couldn’t drive any way. Marta was speechless. She wanted to scream at him, that he is an asshole and should get to the hospital immediately after all, their youngest was on the operating table. But she couldn’t say a word and finished the call without saying goodbye. The hours that followed felt endless. The light went off and Marta sat in the dark. She was waiting for the door to open and for someone to explain to her how the operation had gone. The predicted two hours had long passed. Marta started to imagine the worst of situations. She felt miserable, alone and abandoned. It was nearly two thirty a.m. when the doctor came and said that everything had gone well. The little one would sleep till the early morning and that she should come back before 8 a.m. before he wakes up.

Marta felt a sense of relief. She left the hospital. The car with the open door and the blanket on its roof, where she had left it, was still in front of the ‘no parking’ sign without a fine. Marta entered the car and drove home. The two older ones were sleeping quietly in their beds. Marta lay down and set the alarm for 6 a.m. She had 2,5 hours of sleep ahead of her. She was so drained, that she fell asleep right away. She jumped out of her sleep when the alarm rang. She woke up her oldest and explained to him what had happened. She told him, that she would drive to the hospital and that he should prepare breakfast and make sure that everything was ok at home. She drove to the hospital, spent a long time searching for a parking space and was at the bed of her youngest at 7.30 a.m. He was still asleep. He woke up after an hour and immediately reached his healthy hand towards Marta. As she stroked his hair, gave him a kiss and explained what had happened the previous day the doctor arrived for the check-up.

Everything seems to have gone well. The youngest had a colored plaster cast and according to the doctor, he could travel back home at lunch time. Marta was very relieved. She called Hans and asked him if he could come home and pick up the youngest from hospital. He said he could certainly do so but expected to arrive towards the evening after the wrestling event when his dad would be back on his way home. Marta got angry but couldn’t say a word. How could it be that the wrestling festival was more important to him than his own son? She told Hans that she would sort it out herself and hung up. As she put her phone away she noticed that something broke inside of her. The original level of trust that she had felt towards Hans that he would be there for her and the family when they needed him was gone. She couldn’t trust him any more. She felt abandoned.

She explained to her youngest that she would leave him alone at the hospital for a few hours but that she would return shortly after lunch to pick him up with his brothers. He was a bit upset because he didn’t want to stay by himself but he eventually agreed. Marta drove home in the hope that she could get some sleep but as she lay in her bed there were so many thoughts running through her head that she couldn’t sleep. She got up after half an hour, took a shower and took both of her boys to the hospital. She was very tired and had to take care to not make any mistakes when driving.

She put the little one into the car, took the pain killers from the nurse and drove slowly back home. When they got to the graveyard the youngest one became very pale and started to throw up.

The second oldest brother who was sitting next to him lifted his head. Marta stopped the car at the pavement. Yes, the nurse had warned them that he might get sick because of the anesthesia.

The vomit smelt horrible and was all over the car. They got out and sat the youngest onto the grass. He was pale white. Marta cleaned the car as much as possible. After a while they got back into the car and drove very slowly home without any further incidents.  

At the moment when Stucki wan the final round against Wicki and become wrestling champion Marta had finished cleaning the car. Her husband arrived late that evening. The two healthy boys greeted him, Marta however looked at him and no longer saw the man that she had fallen in love with and with whom she had wanted to spend the rest of her life with in front of her.

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