Thursday, March 02, 2006

I'm a threat to national security

First I went and saw Good Night and Good Luck, Clooney's film about the McCarthy interrogations of would-be communists in post-WWII America. Then I read about Morrissey being interrogated this week by the CIA because of remarks he made about President Bush being a terrorist himself. Then, finally, tonight, while walking along Niepodlegosci, two of those tall, dark and wrapped-in-day-glo-vests police men came walking towards me with their little black books in hand. I've always wondered why they stopped innocent looking people on the street and now I got to find out the hard way.

The short cop started his spiel, and as I stared at him blankly pretending not to understand him, I listened to what he had to say to me. "By order of the former mayor and current President Kaczynski, it is our duty to check individuals throughout Warsaw for their proper papers and documents, to make sure everyone is welcome here and for the safety of the people of this great city."

I was shocked. As he continued further I interrupted and said, "Przrepraszm, nie mowie po polsku, mowie po angielsku?" And now they were shocked.

Lots of awkward expressions and grunts of English came out of the taller officer, as he was trying to explain why I needed to show my passport. I said I didn't have it with me, only a driver's license.

"Would that work?"


"Why do you need it?"

Lots and lots of fumbling...then he finally asked how long have I been in Poland. I said for about one year, then the other officer's eyes widened and he blurted you must know Polish then and went off on me about the rules and regulations for foreigners staying here. I had to slow them down and said, look, I'm here teaching English, my job doesn't require me to know your language. Boy were they frustrated with me, so to lighten things up, I said, "Well maybe you guys can help me out... I'm getting married this summer and am looking for wedding rings at jewelry stores along this street. The one up there was too small, any idea if there are more down this way?" ;-)

It worked, they laughed, smiled and offered that they didn't think there were any more stores to the south. The tall one was still trying so hard to tell me why I needed my passport but I was trying my best to convince them that I'm not a threat to the people of Warsaw, unless they feel that the increased use of English in their country is a dangerous thing! ;-)

The funny thing is, is that I'm illegal again.

You EUers got it made!

See you in the deportation cell!



At 3/06/2006 12:40:00 PM, Anonymous Brendan Ian Burke said...

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At 3/08/2006 10:02:00 AM, Blogger Gustav said...

Jeronimo, that's insane. I never really thought it would get that bad, though I should have.

I never have my passport on me, I'm too afraid of being pickpocketed, and my passport is absolutely essential in getting my documentation, etc. - though I do carry a driver's license.

At 3/09/2006 11:19:00 AM, Blogger Michael Farris said...

I don't carry my passport though I have started carrying my Polish residence card (karta pobytu) around (since it's more or less easily replaceable and has my PESEL which is occasionally called for and which I'm too lazy to learn).

If you do know Polish it's never wise to pretend you don't understand. Few people can really carry it off for longer than a few minutes and at would be very easy for that to be perceived as an insult (or even worse, lekcewa┼╝enie).

At 3/16/2006 11:14:00 AM, Blogger jeronimo said...

I wasn't pretending :) It's normal to be able to understand a language much more than you can speak it! ;-)

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