Polish Entry, Working Girls and Knocking

Where there’s a gun, there’s a way. The uniformed men in Poland stood for authorities. Alien authorities, often. German Gestapo, Soviet NKVD, PRL secret police officers could raid into a Polish flat without a warrant. Needless to say, the men in uniformed power were not as polite as this Monty Python’s constable:

Members of the military, police, militia, forest inspectorate, postal service, gas works, electricity works, firemen, doctors, priests, anyone in outwardly authority-marking clothes would always have the hand upper than the hand of a ‘regular’ plain clothes or plain pyjamas Pole’s. Especially when it could carry a gun, a baton, a court summons. Media (such as TV) were power, too – a journalist could enter places where mortals dared not. Clerks used to be (and sometimes still feel to be) in power to, apparently more important than citizens.

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Still, you will easily find politeness in Poland wherever it is needed – in a shabby-clad burglar, for example. Start watching this piece of “Alternatywy 4” [from 02:10] A burglar named Balcerek is requested to break into a flat of one of his neighbours. He has his principles: it is professionally unethical to go burglarise your own homestead. Assured it’s a matter of life and death, Balcerek agrees to break in, accompanied to the target door by the neighbours. What should a burglar do before he starts his job? He KNOCKS.

Or, note that men of the Polish resistance knock. Only then they can break into a rendez-vous (watch first 50 secs)].

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One comment below the post about the English exit was about a water–meter inspectoress, allegedly rude. Her iconic precedent is Kobieta Pracująca (the Working Woman), a jill of all trades, mistress of just as many.

See her walk in bravely as a gas / electricity works collector, demand a place to seat, wanting the mess on the table removed. Don’t dismiss her rudeness too hastily: she pays back with many a piece of advice on a variety of subjects, free of charge, not even for a cuppie. In another episode she says “excuse me” to offer insurance policy instantly in the middle of the household under marital argumentation. Both episodes merged below:

See her as a saleswoman, offering veal, turning into a plague-fighter since the need be. See that not only Polish home is not a castle, but a bedridden man’s bed does not stand within any area of unpeeped-in privacy. See the lady toss “good evening” and barge in to offer pants-sewing service. Two episodes in one tube again:

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The times they are a-changin’. There can be less arrogance and more pleasure in life. So, I’ll leave you with a gas detector inspector and a morgue representative paying their visits to a damsel (in distress?).



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No woman working here.

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5 thoughts on “Polish Entry, Working Girls and Knocking

  1. island1 says:

    Glad I took the time to watch these, I do love these classic Polish comedy-of-manners. All good stuff for a bit of cultural understanding.

    I’m sure this connects with my observations about the strict divide between the public and private spheres in Polish society. The woman who will happily barge into your house dispensing advice in her ‘official capacity’ wouldn’t dream of doing so in her private life. Unless she was one of those people who take their position rather seriously and imagine that they are always official whether on duty or not.

  2. Pawel says:

    I’d say she was operating more in the private life… That was the comical part: she was in official capacity, and acted as an aunt or nosy neighbour:)

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