Les gens qui ne rient jamais ne sont pas des gens sérieux

Be who you are and say what you mean, those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind

Friday, August 04, 2006


I had ten minutes until I was due to meet Marek after work, so I sat on a bench in the park opposite his building and got out my book.

I was a little unsure of whether it was wise to sit on that particular bench, as the last time I'd been reading in the same spot, I was accosted. Out of the corner of my eye I'd seen a couple of people approach, and heard male laughter. One figure came towards me and before I knew it, was sat next to me, an arm flung around my shoulders as I, surprised and a little unnerved, turned to him with a 'wahthafuh?' and the second guy took our picture. Turns out I am a Warsaw tourist attraction...

Anyway, this time there were just a few normal-looking people wandering through the park on their way home so I settled down and started reading.

I hadn't been reading for long when I spied a couple of men with clipboards, walking towards me. I sank down in my seat in a vain attempt to disappear and held up my book, demonstrating the fact it was in English. I also said very loudly inside my head 'I'm a foreigner, do not even THINK about coming over here and talking to me'. I obviously should have transmitted the message in Polish because they came and sat next to me on my bench.

I eyed them warily and the guy sitting next to me shuffled RIGHT into my personal space and gave me a wide grin.

'We just have a short questionnaire, does Pani have a couple of minutes to answer some questions?'

I groaned inwardly, 'well, er I'm not Polish...' I started,

'That's ok!' he said brightly,

'I may not understand all the questions...' I continued, sneaking a peek at my watch to see whether it was time to meet Marek yet.

'It's very simple' he said, ignoring my feeble protests 'and it won't take long.'

I gave in and he started with the basics. What is my name? What age bracket do I fall under? What do I do for a living? How much do I earn? (Here I got into the long saga of my EVS project, the temporary job I am doing for (very little) money and my plans for another EU-funded project) Does my work provide me with any insurance? (Ha! As if! Judging by experience so far it provides me with pocket money in return for hours of work in a stuffy asbestos-laden office - oops, am I breaking my don't-blog-about-work rule?)

The man almost gave a whoop of joy when he heard my insurance-free existence.

'So if Pani fell over on the street and broke her leg, she would have to go to a public hospital and join the queue' he said, forehead furrowed with concern.

'Er, yeah I guess so, or go to a private place...'

'And pay hundreds of zlotys!' he finished triumphantly.

'Yes, that's right.'

It was about this point that:
a) I realised he was going to try and sell me insurance; and
b) I briefly considered the possibility that my internet usage was being monitored by Polish secret services and information being passed on to the relevant people, as the very night before I had been searching for some kind of health insurance. My EVS coverage finished long ago and I don't like the uncertainty of no cover. Then I snapped back to reality and reminded myself that I live in EU member state Poland and not Soviet Russia.

I agreed to his phoning me to arrange an appointment at his office and apologetically took a call from Marek who was waiting for me. As we shook hands and parted ways I thought that would be the end of it.

A week later I got the call and pretty reluctantly agreed to a meeting. I went expecting a small office, Polish-style disorganisation and shady-sounding deals. I was pleasantly surprised.

The office turned out to be a branch of a well-known insurance agency, and the guy brought allong his colleague, the lovely Mr. Singh, to explain everything in English. It's affordable and covers everything I need.

After a fruitless search on the internet, it looks like my insurance needs are going to be filled following a chance meeting in a Warsaw park.

Things fall into your lap sometimes.

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Blogger Warsaw Crow said...

Is it only me or do fortunate things seem to fall into your lap (or embrace you) with almost alarming frequency? A chap I know has a similar halo - winning almost every magazine competition he enters.

You ever tried the Polish lottery?

11:44 pm  
Blogger Becca said...

Actually, I did try the Polish lottery on my first visit to Poland before I lived here and was just visiting Marek...

I won 100 zlotys. Honestly. But any other time I've entered (very rarely) I've always lost sincce then :-(

10:29 am  

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