Of all the things that I thought might happen to me when I went to Poland last year, getting busted on the street car was not on the list. They have this tricky system there of making it almost impossible for a visitor to get a ticket for the train. And to make it more interesting, there are undercover train cops lurking on the trains to check your ticket. My girlfriend told me afterwards it was because I was smiling and talking in English. So obviously foreign. Not supposed to do that in Warsaw I guess. They are no longer under communism regime. However the feeling of a need to keep ones head down and remain unnoticed persists.
The way to get a ticket for the train in Warsaw is to look for a little building that looks sort of like an ice cream stand. It will have stickers all over the windows and sell nothing but cigarettes and train tickets. They seem to have rather odd hours. They are not open on holidays or before or after a holiday. Or any other day that a tourist needs to buy a ticket. My friend and I wanted to go to downtown Warsaw so we decided to risk it. Or rather I did. She had a pass being a native and all. So we get on the train and away we go. Riding the train in Poland is a very solemn occasion. Or so it seemed to me anyway. Not much talking, and certainly not any laughing.
Now my friend had warned me that someone might ask me for my ticket. I thought that meant that I would say I didn’t have one because there was no place to buy a ticket. And just pay the fare to this undercover ticket spy. NOOoooo. Big mistake on my part. I was chatting away and looking at everything. I became aware of an onerous presence hovering over me. He asked me something in a loud stern voice in Polish, of course. For some reason the mischief-maker in me decided to play Mr. Bean and be just the stupidest tourist that ever was.
I knew what he wanted, but I looked at him with a big dumb smile. He asked again and started pointed at what I assumed was a ticket in his hand. The train got more quiet, if that was possible. My girlfriend nudged me and whispered “show him you ID.” That really ticked me off. Colonel Klink was demanding that I show him my papers? I’m an American, I don’t think so! I dug around in my purse and handed him a meaningless card. I think maybe it was my Costco Discount card. The guy was starting to get really agitated so my friend talked to him in Polish. Probably something about me not understanding and not in my right mind. He whips out a ticket pad and proceeds to write me a ticket for not having a ticket. He shows the ticket to my friend and her eyes got a little wide and she said “you have to pay a fine of 180 Slotykis.” He handed me the ticket, I shoved it in my purse without looking at it and went back to sight-seeing. I feel a kick on my foot and my poor friend said through gritted teeth, “you have to pay now!”
Well I knew that, but buy this point I was almost crying from trying not to laugh. “What do you mean I have to pay now? To this guy? I’m being held up on the train? How I even know who he is? I want to see some ID? More Polish back and forth. He finally produced some sort of ID and waved it under my nose. “Is 180 Slotykis a lot of money? Friend said something like 30 or 40 dollars. So I went into tirade about how expensive that was. That I was being taken advantage of, a damsel in distress. I was really hamming it up. So he lowered the fine to 160 Slotykis. See, I knew that guy was on the take. At this point I felt it was time to bring this show to close before they handcuffed me a drug me off somewhere unpleasant that served bad food. I had a crumpled wad of bills in my purse that I know was a little more than 160. I handed to him the wad of bills and said “Is that enough?” Suddenly he understood enough English to say “yes,” and walked off.
My poor friend was ready to faint by this time. She muttered something that sounded pretty dire. She got over it and we continued downtown and had a wonderful afternoon and evening, drinks, dinner and a movie. I think the adventure on the train was worth whatever I paid for it. And I still love to travel.
- Poland – Warsaw, Poland (travelpod.com)
The bible says that in the holy state of matrimony the “Two shall become as One.” Sounds good so far. But, I do not see any guidance on what the blessed couple is supposed to do with all their stuff.
Husband and I married in our late forties. We both owned our own homes. I sold my condo and moved in with hub-man, so we ended up having 2 of everything. Been living here 6 years now and sometimes I still feel like I’m living out of a suitcase. Hubby claimed to be open to, but basically was deeply upset, by any disturbance in the force. I conducted an ongoing experiment where I moved a chair in the living room about a half-inch to the right everyday on my way out the door to work. You could tell by the dents in the carpet. Every night when I came home the chair is right back to it’s original position. *Sigh* Gave it up after about a year, figured my theory was sufficiently proven.
We really didn’t think this through. His house was a very nice, elegant, kind of house that reminded me of living in a law office/museum/cry. There was no trace that the female of the species had ever spent time here. It was, and still is, crammed with every thing he has collected since childhood. He even had movies on laser disc. I’ve never even heard of laser disks and I’m into gadgets. ThinkGeek.com gets an alarming amount of business from me. Until we met he had not been out of the city we live in for about 20 years. I, in the other hand, have traveled the world extensively and believe in packing light, literally and figuratively. Proof in point, I went to Poland last year to visit on old friend bringing only a carry on weighing 12 pounds, and returned a week later with 3 additional pounds (shoes, of course.) Minimalism is right up my alley and my recent discovery of the Tiny House Concept has only added fuel to the fire..
However, I do have my own personal stuff that I don’t want crammed in the back of a closet or up in the attic. We live in Texas, so storing something in the attic is the cheaper, yet roughly equivalent, option to shooting your stuff off in a rocket and storing on the surface of the sun. Trust me, it will never be the same! Also, getting it up there in the first place means first backing the husbands truck, which is larger than my first apartment, out of the garage. This gives him fits. Why do Texas men insist on driving huge trucks that they pretend their wives are incapable of driving??? Probably so they can try to get away with not letting us, come to think of it. In the distant past, I drove a battered Ford Torino dragging a U-haul trailer from Miami, Florida to San Francisco, California via New York. I know how to drive, thank you very much. This questionable accomplishment falls in my category of “it seemed like a good idea at the time” and will be discussed at some future date.
In my former condo was a glorious walk in closet that was mine, all mine. Today I share a closet with my husbands suits and ties he never wears, 75 identical t-shirts, assorted hunting rifles, and his collection of DVDs and now Blu-ray. I like modernistic, zen, simplistic, uncluttered surroundings. My motto is “when in doubt throw it out.” He likes huge leather furniture, dark wood, paintings of ships, and knick knacks of everything that was every given to him or his ancestors. His motto: “We might need that someday” or “I have to keep that, it belonged to great-aunt Featherbottom.” I think but don’t say “maybe she gave it away ‘cuz she didn’t want it.” Territorial battles ensue. I’ve toyed with the idea of giving him a fire hydrant as a present and suggesting that he take it out to the yard, whizz all over it, and get it out of his system. But that would only work in the yard. Back to square one inside the house.
copyright © Serenity Game
George Carlin stand up on Stuff (tiny bit of R rated language at the end)
- You’re Really Going to Wear That? (blogs.wsj.com)
- Out With The Old, In With The New: Clean Out Your Closets and Liquidate (thesimpledollar.com)