I wandered over to the Dublin Pub a few days ago here in Szczecin just for old-times sake . I used to go there when I first started visiting Poland , a little over twenty years ago . The city was a very different place then , just after the changes from the Communist decades . At first there was no place to go for a drink [ we all have our priorities !] that I knew of except some scary vodka joints full of hostile -looking derelicts . That’s how I remember it , anyway .
Then , within a few years , there was the Dublin Pub , and the Boston Pub , and the London Pub . Despite the names , there was no one in any of them who could speak English . There was another bar tucked away in a back alley that I’d seen but never really had the courage to enter . I think it was called the Desperado , and it looked it . And there’s one place named after an old ship . I can’t , for the moment , remember the name . It’s not the Lost Dutchman , but that might as well be the name , because I know the place still operates but I haven’t been able to find it again . Cutty Sark —- I think that’s it .
The Dublin Pub was my choice for a beer in those years . The Boston and the London were too full of young people and blue clouds of cigarette smoke , and the chairs seemed to be stuck into tight little corners and alcoves on several levels up and down stairs . The Dublin was roomier . There was not an Irishman around , I should say , or anyone in those days who spoke English , but it did look like someplace one might see in Ireland . Customers have to walk down a few stairs to the entrance because the place is below ground level , but then it’s on all one level . Well, except the toilet , which is a few more steps down .
The Dublin is where I went once when I locked Ada and her sister and her cousin and her niece and who knows who else in for most of the the night . It seems in Poland that when you lock up a door and turn the key twice when you leave the door locks so that even the people inside with a key can’t get out . Their key won’t work . It’s a safety thing , I was told . When you turn the key one revolution — no problem . When you turn it two revolutions …………..
So Ada and her crowd were inadvertently locked in by me when I left . In my defense , no one had explained the onesies and the twosies of Polish locks to me until later. By then , of course , it was a little too late . Way too late .
Dan : You mean to say that , even when someone inside has a key , the key won’t work if the lock has been turned twice ?
So , how in the world does that make sense ? I guess so the husbands can lock their wives in ?
No , I was told . So thieves who may break in through a window, for example , can’t get the TV or whatever they intend to steal out the door.
Oh , I said . Makes perfect sense to me . Not . American insurance companies would be , as my old boss Mrs. Kay used to say , shitting bricks if they’d heard that one . Fire chiefs would be shaking their helmeted heads . Made perfect sense to all the Poles , though , as I remember . They’d look at me as if to say : What’s your problem ?
Well , my fault . On the night that I locked that group up in the apartment , I had promised Ada that I was going to the Dublin Pub for one beer and then I’d be back . That was my intention . But I happened to meet Captain Haakon and his crew there . Their ship was in dry dock for a few days and they were filling the time drinking tequila at the Dublin Pub.
Tequila in Szczecin ? Now , that was something to stick my nose into . Pinch of salt and squeeze of lemon on the hand and all of that . Haakon was a Norwegian and his crew were Poles and Russians and maybe a Dane or two and a few others . I walked over and asked who was the one who knew how to drink Tequila .
I guess that would be me , one of them said , in his Scandinavian accent . I am Captain Haakon and this is my crew . Sit down and join us . I’ll buy you a drink .
And there you have it . My confession . I sat down even though my tired , sore-boned , and agitated old guardian angel was pleading with me not to do it . That angel is no slouch , too . Knows what’s what . Maybe I should have listened . Well , sure I should have listened .
A beer man should never wander too far from beer . That’s my learned lesson after all of this , such as it is . Sure, I might share a shot of tequila with my friend Juan , or Bill , back in L.A. Sitting down with a freighter’s crew in a pub in Szczecin to drink tequila is an entirely different matter altogether .
So I got back a couple of hours later than expected , a little worse for wear . I had no clue that the other crew upstairs , Ada , her cousin , et all , had by now realized that I had locked them all in . Cousin discovered that unfortunate surprise after he’d called a taxi to take him home The taxi showed up down on the street , but cousin couldn’t get out of the apartment . A funny thing , also , was that cousin happened to know the taxi driver , who most likely brought that awkward night up in conversations from that time onward .
And then the cell phone batteries died . The taxi driver was shouting to them from the street , as the trapped group leaned a little out the window six stories up .
And , the misadventure is not over quite yet . Just as I arrived downstairs at the gate , my step-son happened to be staggering back from his nightly adventure , wherever that might have been . The two of us held a quick impromptu pow-wow , took one look at one another , and decided that we’d better go someplace and get a cup of coffee and straighten up a bit before were wandered back home .
Not a good idea , as it turned out . I was a few hours late in all and they all had been helplessly locked in and trapped up there in the apartment for at least a couple of hours longer than anyone of them would have wished.
And , what if there had been a fire ? I said after the double lock thing had been explained to me amid a loud chorus of complaints . This key thing is just a crazy idea !
That didn’t get me off the hook , however . Sometimes you try to change the subject , and for one reason or another it just doesn’t work .
Maybe I should have stowed away on Captain Haakon’s tramp steamer . I considered the possibility briefly , but my guardian angel said no .