I’ve been over in Poland for the last few weeks and so far they haven’t kicked me out . Not that they would kick me out . I keep a low profile . I have learned my lesson and I don’t , almost never , talk to strangers . One time I tried to help an old lady carry her suitcase down the stairs at the train station and she screamed bloody murder . Lucky for me there didn’t seem to be any police personnel immediately available . I got several accusing stares as I walked away a little embarrassed , unable to explain in their language my faux paux . Okay , once in awhile I slip up . So sue me .
Last evening Ada and I were sitting at an outdoor table at a tiny coffee shop in the city . We had tried several other places in search of somewhere with a WiFi connection. None of the more popular places seemed to have WiFi. We were stranded for awhile because Ada’s sister locked herself out of her apartment. That’s a story for another time , but we needed WiFi to contact a locksmith .
Sister dear has a dog now . The dog doesn’t understand English or Polish , because he lives in Paris where Ada’s sis resides . It’s a cute little dog . Understands some French .
So , as we were sitting there sipping our drinks and waiting for the locksmith to contact us there was a certain amount of chatter being tossed around among us in English , Polish , and French . I know a lot less French than the doggie and about the same amount of Polish , I think , as that little four legged beast does . Well , on second thought , not to brag , but I probably know a few more Polish words than the dog —- I mean if there were ever to be a contest . Neither of us would win any prizes however , I’m sure .
Near us at another table was a young man kind of leaning against the wall , relaxed , and wearing flip-flops . This relaxed aspect might suggest , now that I think of it , that he might not be Polish . There is a tension in the faces of most Polish people in public . Germans , too . ( Don’t tell them I said anything . It’s not their fault .)
At any rate , the dog on its short leash ran under the guy’s chair and Ada’s sis reflexively apologized to the guy . She spoke her words in English , which I thought was a bit strange , since her native lingo is Polish . And we’re sitting at a cafe in Poland .( She also speaks fluent French and Danish but her English is somewhat limited .) But that’s what happens sometimes in the language arena . ( I’m an expert , self-proclaimed , although I speak only English . Sure, I speak a touch of Polish and a touch of Spanish , and I know four or five phrases in Swedish , but with not even a whiff of fluency . )
I pointed out to Ada’s sis that it seemed to me a bit weird that she talked to the guy in English . ” You think he’s Polish ? ” , she whispered . Of course he’s Polish , I thought ; but , then again , he did seem to give of a vibe of a young guy sitting on the beach in California ( or maybe in Spain , or Italy , or Thailand , or Greece………… all places I haven’t been and so can’t vouch for but will imagine .)
Maybe he was German , though . There are a lot of German tourists in the city . He responded to her apology with a couple of rather reluctantly uttered English words . Not loud enough for me to hear any particular accent . Not a native English accent for sure .
Ada says the city is packed with Americans. In over twenty years of coming here and wandering around I’ve met a total of about ten. Six of them were American soldiers stationed at the nearby Nato base . One would expect to meet several more American soldiers around town , but they just aren’t around . They seldom wander away from the base , I suppose . I know that the city was expecting a big economic boost a few years ago when the base expanded . Lots of money was expected to flow in as the soldiers rented apartments , spent dough in the local restaurants and wet their whistles in the multitude of watering holes and browsed around the new shopping malls . Never happened .
Anyhow , the locksmith soon showed up , took his drill and broke through the lock in about a minute and a half , and installed a new lock . About $100. Sometimes we pay for our mistakes . In Paris the cost would be many times higher , according to Ada’s sis. I wondered how she knew .