Geneva, nestled between mountains and a picturesque lake, is a glorious city. This goes a long way toward making its motor show the best international show in the world.
Other factors? Well, the show is just the right size, and Switzerland is neutral territory.
But it's fair to say that Geneva attracts execs from all over the world because it's a pleasant, friendly, peace-loving, laissez-faire kind of city.
This is true most years, but not this year.
There is labor discord in paradise.
You might expect garbage hauler strikes in New York and transit strikes in Paris but a taxicab strike in Geneva?
And over what? Money? Working conditions? Hours? Better cologne for the drivers?
It's over the color yellow. That and independence.
It's important to note that, in my experience, Geneva cabbies are polite, don't expect big tips, and they fill out and sign the receipt for you.
It's usually an efficient system.
But the cabbies of Geneva have been pushed too far.
City fathers want all taxicabs to be painted yellow for easier identification, like Checker cabs in Chicago or the old black Austin cabs in London.
This flies in the face of Swiss independence. Taxicabs in Geneva are an eclectic mix of Fords, Citroens and Mercedes-Benz sedans, wagons and vans. They all have their own identities.
And so the cabbies are on strike.
Well, this being Geneva, it's not a strike in the sense of the word that most of us are familiar with. It's more of a slowdown. Some cabbies are working; there just aren't enough of them around to handle the influx of visitors who are here for the auto show.
Geneva is such a civilized city. In the umpteen times I've visited, I can't remember ever hearing anyone raise his voice. That's probably why (or because) the World Health Organization, International Red Cross and so many other humanitarian organizations are located here.
But there sure were a lot of loud, unfriendly voices at the airport when journalists and execs couldn't hail a cab.
Of course, you can always walk. Or take a train or catch a bus. And if you wait long enough, a cab might show up.
The big shots get chauffeured around in hired cars, and some of the automakers were good enough to hire buses to shuttle folks to and from the show. General Motors was good enough to give me a ride on Tuesday.
Still, I hope they settle things soon. Even if it's not in time to help the auto show crowd, at least they might salvage the United Nations.
You may e-mail Edward Lapham at [email protected]