Sunday, 20 May 2007

Woman behaving badly, part II

Another confession to make, I'm afraid. The crimes of your humble correspondent just keep mounting up. All is not lost! Save yourselves and avert your eyes from this tale of shame!

On Saturday morning I found myself with a semi-urgent pharmaceutical requirement. No problem in the 24/7 UK society, but, the minute you set foot on the other side of the channel, you regularaly find shops closed at illogical hours. In France it's banks on a Monday. Bakeries shut for one day a week, on any given day, practicality notwithstanding. And woe betide the British Erasmus student in Italy who runs out of lavatory paper at noon on Saturday: the supermarkets will not re-open until 3 o'clock on Monday afternoon.

From midday on a Saturday, shops in Poland start to roll down their shutters, at 1, 2 and 3pm.
Waiting at the tram stop, on my way to a class at 12.30, I found myself with ten minutes to spare and decided to risk the chemist's shop on the opposite corner.
In front of me in the shop were an elderly babcia and dziadek, minutely inspecting and then rejecting one bottle of vitamin supplements after the other. After five minutes of foot-tapping had elapsed I could feel my left eyelid start to twitch from glancing periodically over the road at the tram stop.
A young-ish couple entered the shop, followed a couple of minutes later by a middle-aged nun. I'm not yet able to distinguish one order from the other- I suspect this will come at around the same time as full understanding of the uses of the Polish instrumental case- but she had a high sticky-up wimple on.
I had four minutes to go, and was considering making a dash for the door, when the dziadkowie finally made their purchase and left.
-Prosze; said the pharmacist, and instantly the young couple stepped forward in front of me.
Three and a half minutes to go, and it was all too much. Unfortunately, the column in my vocabulary book marked 'Righteously indignant Polish to use when queueing' is as yet under construction, and I have found that the best I can do is mutter loudly and darkly in English, which at least gets me noticed.
I put on my darkest look (not hard given the circumstances), and swore as loudly and as colourfully as I could muster, throwing in the word 'rude' several times for good effect.
No-one noticed.
Apart from the nun, who glared at me as I stormed out with as much dignity as I could muster, before turning tail and sprinting across the road with a minute and a half to go.

Now you know the truth. You are following the adventures of a degenerate young person who swears at nuns.

ps. I have learnt a special new Polish phrase: 'nie ma'. This means 'there isn't any', and is especially useful if you happen to work in a cafe, pharmacy or corner shop in Poland.

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