Moaning not only a Polish sport

Fellow blogger Glenn appeared in a local weekly recently to share some of his thoughts about Poland.

Glenn Standish in Teraz Torun

The beginning of his story is predictable and the Polish have heard similar many times:

“When I decided to move to Poland, my friends in England were asking – What are you doing? Are you mad? Poland is boring, depressive, uninteresting… Just give it up”.”Typical British judging book by its cover”.

Then we go straight to the list of complaints:

“Being polite doesn’t cost anything, and I think we already got used to not hearing some of those basic words, that define the culture of communication. I often pay attention to little things that can make your day. Rarely when I give someone my seat on a bus I hear thank you. Also in shops, in various public offices, there is no place for a simple kindness, for a word like “please” or simply a smile. It needs to be said: customer service in Toruń leaves a lot to be desired.”

“Once I went to buy a Mars bar in a local shop. The lady scans it. Beep, beep. Again. It doesn’t work – she says indifferently. I didn’t get the Mars bar. Why do they have Mars bars if I can’t buy them? I don’t know if it’s that I’m a foreigner, but there was simply some initiative missing. They could at least ring the manager and ask what they should do. It’s even worse when you want o return a product […]”

Reading this makes all Polish people sigh with relief! It’s not us who are the moaners! Everyone on our place moans the same. For Poles are renowned moaners, and they constantly complain about all aspects of life from traffic to politics. Moaning, some say, is the national sport. Ask a Pole how he is doing, and you’ll hear how bad his health is, how bad other people’s manners are, how badly the country is being run, and generally how terrible the state of things is. We even moan about our constant moaning.

To see someone out-moan us, to lose our gold medal in moaning is unthinkable and rare. Hold on, this is our sport! It’s like Chinese team winning World Cup Cricket.

It’s not that Glenn doesn’t have a point. It’s that everyone in Poland already complains about the same things as he does. (It is only a pity Glenn didn’t manage to squeeze in anything he particularly liked about Poland. Did Glenn go beyond the book cover?)

Maybe, if others moan as well, our Polish moaning is legitimised?


If you enjoyed this post why not visit my news blog, or click on Pawel on the left to see my other posts on Polandian.

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5 thoughts on “Moaning not only a Polish sport

  1. You have got the wrong gist of the article…I am not moaning about Poland. I love Poland, the people and the way of life. I am simply thinking from a tourist’s perspective about some of the language/cultural issues that they could face in Toruń (which after all is hoping to become the European Capital of Culture). The stories in the article were amusing anecdotes that I have experienced in my 5 years in Poland.

    The newspaper specifically didn’t want me to paint a ‘roses and all’ portrait of Poland…instead they wanted me to highlight some of the problems that tourists could face so that the local government in Toruń can focus on them. I am all for anything to make my favourite Polish city…even better!

    So kindly please change the title and context of your post…as unfortunatley it paints me in a very negative light and that is most certainley NOT fair! After all, I am on your side!

  2. Pawel says:

    Glenn,

    The intro of the article says “Glenn and Chris talk about their everyday lives in the city of Copernicus”. This is the theme then.

    It doesn’t say Glenn and Chris talk about cultural issues regarding the Toruń’s bid for European Capital of Culture 2016 and what in Toruń might need an update in that context. And it doesn’t say you were asked to omit the better bits. Nothing about it being suggestions to local council either.

    This article appeared in a newspaper available to the general public, it is not private. Many people will read it, judge it, and have opinions on it. I have read it and shared my impressions here.

    I trust your intentions were different from the impression I got – but then it is not me who is being unfair to you, but the newspaper.

    I have some experience in dealing with journalists (especially those from GRA corp., owner of Teraz Toruń), and I believe you it all looked like you say when the interview was conducted. Usually you have to be really careful with journalists as they are looking for news, not for friends, and are usually busy and careless – and it is likely they will write whatever they want anyway.

    (BTW: There is nothing wrong in complaining, Polish people love it and do it all the time. They sympathise with you, and think you are one of us, as you have the same problems, and same things bug you.)

  3. island1 says:

    Glenn,

    It’s a shame you took this as an attack on you. It really didn’t read like that to me. I thought Pawel’s point was a good one; that many of the things that seem substandard in Poland (such as customer service and general politeness) annoy most Polish people just as much as they annoy visitors to Poland. I’d never really thought of it like that before. It’s very easy to approach Poland as if it was a uniform culture in which everyone has the same views. This isn’t the case, as I’m sure you know.

    Anyway, I didn’t see this post as an attack on you. And you can’t seriously ask someone to change their post title just because you don’t like it.

  4. darthsida says:

    Re: Men are from Mars, but not always for Mars

    “The managers don’t give a fruck, they’re just tryin’ to get ya out the door before you start filin’ complaints. Shop-ladies, forget it, they ain’t takin’ any stress for the register. Shelfers, some backup boys gettin’ paid 160 pound a month really gonna give a fruck you’re complainin about a card reader. Other customers are standin’ behind your back with feet in their hurry, they don’t know what’s goin’ on. One minute they’re queuein’ to pay for their Torun gingerbread, next minute somebody’s throwin’ a line about Mars in the air.”

    The moaning above adapted from the Pulp Fiction script :)

  5. Glad it wasn’t intended as an attack. Thanks for the email Pawel…all is forgiven! ;-)

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