Sunday, 13 April 2008


Dziś zrobiłam moją pierwszą awanturę w sklepie... po polsku.

Walking to school after church I wanted a bottle of water, so I ducked into a newsagent's on Bracka and picked up 50cl of Kropla Beskidu niegazowana.

- Two złote

I handed over a fifty-złotych note, having only just been to the cashpoint.

- 'I can't take that,' said the guy; 'don't you have two złote?'

I left the bottle on the counter and walked out in high dudgeon.

Three paces down the street I stopped, too furious to go on.
I simply didn't have the time or inclination to spend twenty minutes traipsing around the main square looking for a civilized retailer with the requisite small change.
The accumulated effect of almost thirteen months spent scrabbling for pennies, counting out and totting up those tiny little bronze coins, and being stuck in queues behind old ladies doing exactly the same thing boiled up inside me.

Summoning all the righteous indignation (not to mention vocabulary) I could muster, I turned on my heel and marched back into the shop.

- If you're not going to keep change in the till, you won't get any customers!
I challenged him.
The guy gave a wry smile.
- No, I don't have any customers. It's Sunday. The banks are closed. I can't get change.

Now I'm sorry to make the 'what sort of a barbaric country is this?' - UK comparison all over again, but honestly! In Britain, shops keep enough change in the float for the WHOLE weekend!
Because we know the banks are closed on a Sunday!
As a student checkout girl I would have got into all kinds of trouble for not replenishing my stocks of shrapnel in good time.

Shopkeepers of Poland! We are in the EU now! And particularly, excuse me, if your shop happens to be within spitting distance of the Rynek - which is always crawling with tourists bearing big crispy 100 złotych notes fresh from the Kantor.

I exploded at him.

I can't remember exactly what I said, but I'm pretty certain a lot of the endings were wrong. It definitely included the following:

- I am the customer! The customer is right! I know it's Sunday! I just went to the bank! Yes I UNDERSTAND 'zamknięte' means 'closed'!

We parted on extremely poor terms.

I bought water elsewhere.

And finally:

Extensive long-term research has shown that in Poland it is possible to obtain two different kinds of lavatory paper:
i) wild or savage paper: thick-grained, grey, scratchy and probably a close relative of corrugated cardboard
ii) domesticated paper: pastel-coloured, two-layered, disintegrating, cloyingly scented tissue.

Researchers say these results may be significant in the light of recent observations on the courting rituals of the classic Polish asshole...


Anonymous said...

This poor guy probably read your blog and he just wanted to make the decision about "leaving Krakow as soon as posible" a little bit easier for you...

He was an helpful ass hole ;)

W-wa Jeziorki said...

The drobne issue is a familiar one. Bear in mind that Poland only re-introduced coins in 1995; before that, your bottle of mineral water would have cost you 20,000 zloty (two Copernicus notes). In the 'civilised' UK, every high street bank has a set of scales for weighing plastic bags of 1p, 20, 5p, 10p, 20p and 50p coins. This ensures continual recirculation of small change. Not here. You can just imagine some babcia lining a plastic bag with 20 grosz coins and pouring the requisite weight in sand between them. (Well - you might be unable to imagine this - but the banks certainly guard against this type of fraud) This basic lack of trust makes it difficult for consumers and retailers to turn their small change into notes.

First thing I ever learnt in retailing as a teenager in London was 'never open your store without a cash float'. Here, I've caused commotion at Warsaw's U Szwejka by proffering a 10 zloty note for a 6 zloty cup of coffe a full hour after opening time. (In the end all the waiters and waitresses had to rifle through their pockets to find me my four zlots.)

Part of the answer is to get rid of 1 and 2 grosz coins. They cost much more to mint than they're worth.

pinolona said...


yes! Yes! abolish them all! melt them down and make them into quirky twisty things!

anonymous: when did I talk about 'leaving Kraków as soon as possible'? I don't want to go! Nie wrócę do Anglii! Nie chcę!

Kinuk said...

Brawo! Well done! Sometimes, I have the change but I refuse to hand it over, especially if the checkout person is rude (e.g. does not respond to my cheery "Dzien dobry"). They really should get their shit together.

As for the toilet tissue...I hear you...we buy Regina 4-pack (the one with the blue and pink label) as it's the only one we found does not disintegrate when in contact with anything wet. Also, Rossmans carry their own brand that's pretty good. But Velvet...pah!...rubbish!

Anonymous said...

Do wszystkich polskojęzycznych czytelników tego bloga!
Coś złego dzieje się ostatnio z jego autorką.
Urządza awantury,a jej twórczość
graficzna pełna jest obrazów
strzał i spadających na ludzi
Może to nasza wina,może skrzywiliśmy dobrze wychowaną
angielską dziewoszkę?
Utwórzmy grupę wsparcia,czy co...


Anonymous said...

>Dziś zrobiłam moją pierwszą awanturę w sklepie... po polsku.
Aj.! Coraz częściej piszesz po polsku! Miło widzieć Twoje postępy! To jest właśnie to - żeby przynajmniej zrobić dobrą awanturę, trzeba znać lokalny język.. Gratuluję! Może inni "expats" podzielą się swoimi doświadczeniami w tym względzie?
I czemu nie chcesz wracać?
(FAJNIE ŻE JESTEŚ !!!! :) - a to mój ulubiony temat - skoro tylu znajomych wyjechało, to czemu ktoś chce przyjeżdżać z stamtąd i zarabiać w złotówkach?)
Grupę wsparcia? Ma w nas grupę wiernych czytelników tego dobrego bloga. Myślę, że "winna" jest wiosna - pobudza potrzebą łączenia się w pary i przez to dawne niepowodzenia bolą 2x... Tak - wspierajmy ją - pisząc dobre komentarze. Niech wie, że o niej DOBRZE myślimy.Choćby tyle.
A - P. - jak będziesz kiedyś w Gdańsku - to chętnie służę za przewodnika. J.

wiedzma said...

Pinolona. Can you explain why do you want live in Poland? I leave this country because of situation like this. Mniej wiecej.Bylo jeszcze kilka innych powodów, ale naprawde ciekawa jestem dlaczego nie chcesz wracać do Anglii ? Sorki, ale mój english is not so good so I mixed oba języki ;P

Piotr said...

Anonymuos, to nie nasza wina, ale tego pieprzonego Car Guy'a :) Z tego co pisze, to musi chyba wracac do Anglii.
Ale trzeba przyznac, ze ladnie pisze po polsku, i to z koncowkami :) (wazelina, ale to prawda)

Flowers said...

hey, i agree with kinuk. in fact i hoard my change in a big bowl and cash it up in the summer. it's a bit stupid perhaps but it feels like i'm receiving extra money. of course, they don't have machines that count the change so a pissed off cashier (sorry, can i write that here?) has to do it by hand (last year i was in the bank for 45mins but i think i was more irritated than the dirty fingered banker). in japan they bung it all in a big machine and a couple of seconds later it gives you a number that is transferred into your bank account. that's too simple even for britain though.

regina bog roll. yes. it's a good'un especially as you can make an interesting toilet time limerick out of its name.

p.s. thanks for all the recommendations for polish phrase books. nerdiness appreciated!

Flowers said...

hey there
i have what may be an odd request.
last year, for some reason, my company employed me as a translator. basically, i'm trying to find out whether they took a higher rate of tax, paid a lower amount to the government and pocketed the rest. bear with me.
so. you're a translator. here it is. i wondered if you could possibly point me in a direction where i could find out at what rate translators are taxed.
if you can help me then could you possibly drop me a line on ??
i'd be forever grateful!

Baduin said...

If you ask about Poland, translators are taxed as everybody else, so it depends on your contract. However, when you transfer your copyright to a work, you count half of what you receive as cost. See art. 22 ust. 9 pkt 3 ustawy z dnia 26 lipca 1991 r. o podatku dochodowych od osób fizycznych (Dz. U. Nr 80, poz. 350 z późn. zm.).

If you ask about England, I have no idea.

pinolona said...

Kinuk: Good for you! Customer service is taking its own sweet time to get here... and thanks for the loo roll tip. Will look out for that one.

Zastroskany: Dziękuję za troskę. To bardzo miły. Rysuję strał i fortepian spadający ponieważ strał i fortepianie są. Pokazywam świat jak to jest.
Grupa wsparcia, to dobry pomysł. Chyba z herbatą, ciastkiem (high time I made scones again) i książką polskiej gramatyki.

J.: Nie jestem zbyt fajnie, niestety. Wolę zostać w Polsce i zarabiać GBP - to idealna sytuacja ; ). Przykro mi, ale sytuacja podatki w Polsce jest koszmarna...
Ale dziękuję mocno za wsparcia i za miłe komentarze! I za zaproszenie do Gdańska. Chyba w maju kiedy będę zadowoloną bezrobotną...

(i przeprazam za błędy po polsku, staram się pisać dobrze ale to nie łatwy...)

pinolona said...

Uh... I want to stay in Poland because (przeprazam że pisze po angielsku ale jestem w biurze i po angielsku jest szybko) I like it here. Kraków is the first city where I've lived independently and I've met lots of people and started to find my own place here. So I feel as though here I have some kind of value as a person, whereas in London I'm a nobody who might work as a receptionist or behind a bar somewhere.

Piotr: Dziękuję za waselinę.
Ale uwaga wszyscy: Car Guy nie istnie! On zostaje w przyszłości. Dalej nie będzie na stronach tego bloga. Koniec dyskusja.

Flowers: I like the sound of the Japanese solution, nice and logical! And you can say 'pissed off' on my blog. What Piotr said about Car Guy was worse (I think. I'm not so good on Polish expletives and register).

pinolona said...

I of course meant 'Car Guy zostaje w przeszłości'

Bloody orthographical similarity.

peixote said...

"What Piotr said about Car Guy was worse (I think. I'm not so good on Polish expletives and register)."

Not really, the meaning and intensity of the expletive is nearly the same as "pissed off".

pinolona said...

thanks peixote! gosh trying to write in Polish is a minefield...

Anonymous said...

Poland where is that in Russia eh!!!!!!!