Saturday, 9 June 2007

The Pharmacist

The other night I came home to find one of my flatmates spreadeagled on the couch with a tragic look on his face. 'Don't come near me!' he exclaimed. 'I don't want to make you ill too'.

Two days and a small rainforest of Kleenex later, a particularly violent sneezing fit in the Planty confirmed my fears. Fortunately this occurred on a bank holiday, and a passing military parade provided a timely cover.

The following day I popped out of work to the Apteka across the road, making sure that I had my mp3 player poised over Harry Belafonte's 'Swing Sinora' in case of pharmacy-rage.
(Luckily the nun at the front of the queue was soon finished, and left before I had a chance to disgrace myself.)

Now, when I attempt to stagger to the end of a sentence in Polish, people tend to react in one of two ways: either they simply reply in English, however broken (even in MacDonald's, which is simply embarrassing); or they break into peals of laughter (like my flatmates, and most of their friends).
However, the pharmacist smiled, asked me where I was from (following my question as to whether there was Ibuprofen, and a sort of gesticulation about which was the best type), and whether I studied (bear in mind she had to repeat it several times before I understood), and then launched into ecstasies on how well I spoke, how marvellous it was that foreigners were learning Polish, and (I think) that her daughter spoke several different languages.
I lost the rest, but didn't want to shatter her illusions by bringing out my usual 'nie rozumiem' or 'nie mowie dobrze po polsku', so I just kept smiling and nodding, adding the occasional 'dobrze', 'oszewycie' for good measure, and she seemed delighted.
I finished with a slightly stunned 'dzekuje bardzo, do widzenia' and went out blinking and smiling into the sunshine, feeling a lot more Polish-speaking than I really deserve...


I have made another discovery about the phrase, 'nie ma', so beloved of Polish kiosk owners: it takes the genitive declination.
If this means nothing to you, you are very, very fortunate.

1 comment:

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