So on the way to my Polish class after work last night I stopped by the obwarzanki stand over the road from the office.
- Proszę, ssezamem, I lisped.
The signs were not good. Grey greasy strands of hair were slipping out from under her beret. There was a plastic cup of murky brown liquid at her left elbow, which I took to be coffee because of the coarse grit* swirling around inside. A strange music, sounding suspiciously hymnal, issued from a tiny tinny radio under the canopy.
- Złoty twenty.
After much digging around I triumphantly produced the correct two coins.
- Another ten grosze please.
- What?! -I was mystified- 'aren't they one złoty twenty?'
- Look, one twenty, there
- No no no. You've given me one ten
- I don't think so: look, that's a twenty, see, 2 0
- No no. That's a ten, look. This is a twenty. I need another ten.
Her tone was starting to get aggressive. I feared damage to person or property.
Unable to believe that I was about to get involved in a squabble over what was basically four pence, I feigned looking in my purse again, and brought out two 10gr coins.
- There! said the old woman, pointing to the twenty grosze coin that had been in the palm of my hand all along, "That's a twenty".
I handed over the money and scarpered.
The Bad Obwarzanki Lady has nothing on this woman.
*NB: The traditional and sacred way of making coffee in Poland is to plonk a heaped tablespoonful of coffee grounds into a mug, pour boiling water on top and stir until it starts to turn brackish.