Swiss-German has many distinct linguistic and stylistic differences from the German spoken in Germany. Though I’m German myself, I lived and worked in Switzerland for a long time, and found that concepts such as that of Götti are very important to the way work and society function there—in the case of Götti, so important that a single word, with no real equivalent in German German, has evolved to describe the phenomenon. It’s derived, obviously, from Gott (god), though it has a typically Swiss-German final vowel i—and it denotes a person who helps you get a job you’re interested in and “brings you in” to a position. It’s a kind of combination of angel and mentor. Things in Switzerland tend to work this way, with people likely to behave toward others in a more protective manner than elsewhere. Of course, the concept exists everywhere, but in small countries like Switzerland and Austria I think it’s stronger.
Deus ex machina
One of my early—and unfortunate—encounters with Götti occurred at the Züricher Schauspielhaus, the theater in Zürich of which I was co-director. We had a problem with the technical director there right from the start: he was completely inexperienced and terrible even allowing for that, which created a huge handicap for a new artistic team just starting out. None of the technicians had any respect for him. I made endless efforts to deal with the situation—trying to help him improve, suggesting he might be better off in a different position, then just flat-out trying to get him fired, but I kept encountering mysterious difficulties and eventually had to give up. It took some time, but eventually I found out that the theater’s financial director was this guy’s Götti, and because of that we were stuck with him.
I guess you could say that in Switzerland your fate is all in the lap of the Götti.