The Polish Vacation

It’s started. As we slide from June into July Poland shuts down, mentally if not physically. You can phone people, you can send emails, you can knock on peoples’ doors but ain’t nothing gonna happen until September. It’s a Weird Phenomenon worthy of the pages of Weird Phenomena Monthly. Everybody is physically still here, they still go to work, the shops are still open but somehow the Poles have embarked on their annual three-month mental holiday. Go up to people on the street and wave your hands in their faces, all you’ll get is a vague ‘huh…?’ in response. I don’t know where the Polish mind goes between June and September but it must be damn good. I imagine a collectively unconscious holiday in some paradise dripping with strawberries, wild mushrooms, and big hunks of venison.

Frankly I find it a little eerie. In rain-sodden Britain we nip off to the Med for two weeks in August and that’s the end of it, a couple of days of clinical sunburn and we’re back to work and soap operas and down the pub on a Friday night. Somehow it’s not the same here. Around about the 20th of June a powerful radio signal is sent out from the top of the Palace of Culture and Naughtiness in Warsaw commanding all Poles to switch to ‘wakacje’ mode. From this point on any suggestion that includes references to productive activity will be met with blank stares.

Frankly I think it’s a bloody good idea…

beeep… beeep… beeep…

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13 thoughts on “The Polish Vacation

  1. scatts says:

    You’re right, of course, but slightly out with the timing. Mental shut-down comes earlier, around the beginning of June and lasts until January 5th with a short break in October. Physical absence begins mid June, goes through to around late September, then comes back around all those November public holidays and then again at Christmas, which leads into skiing holiday time which leads into Easter……..


  2. michael farris says:

    One of the reasons for the summer black hole is that in the communist period there was no idea of continuity of work. When you went on vacation anything you’re normally supposed to do just …. stopped, until you got back. That attitude didn’t miraculously disappear after 1989.

    In 1991 I was in a store (sort of a hodgepodge of the kind that sprung up in the early 90’s, some clothes, some office supplies, some cassette tapes) on the main street of town with several different stands and about five indifferent employees standing around watching the air go by.
    One of the stands was a xerox (and I wanted to get some copies made) but a sign next to the machine said “Nieczynne z powodu urlopu” (closed due to vacation).

    That is, whoever normally ran the machine was on vacation and no one thought that any of the other idle employees could or should learn how to use it to keep up that (admittedly small) revenue stream. I wasn’t surprised when that store went out of business.

    I’m not entirely sure if it’s an urban legend but I heard about one office in a university department that simply shut down for a year since the only person authorized to use the key was on an academic exchange abroad.

  3. me says:

    Island1, it is not a powerful radio signal

    It is the continental climate with extreme temperature differences which makes polish people so lazy during the summer.

    The holidays in winter ,spring and autumn is an other story…radio signals from Zakopane, from the church, independence day, constitution day and so on. :D

  4. anglopole says:

    Island, you have absolutely nailed it! I feel like sending my brain to this lovely land of bliss and intellectual standstill, especially that we’re having really beautiful, hot summer weather here in the home counties:) (not sure for how long, though)
    I was just whinging last night in our group on GL about people’s inactivity… now at least I can describe the problem (sic!) :)

  5. summer break says:

    Yes, we are the French of the North, I’d say.
    The only things we can easily do properly are either sliding into this unconscious vacation mood during the summer (we love our summer) or going on strike.

  6. island1 says:

    Scatts: Do I detect a slightly cynical attitude?

  7. island1 says:

    Michael: Classic stories! I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

  8. island1 says:

    Me: Would that be the same continental climate that pertains to Germany?

  9. island1 says:

    anglopole: Home Counties? I thought you lived in Cumbria?

    And yes, the stats for all internet activities in Poland took a dive off a cliff about two weeks ago. You are not alone.

  10. island1 says:

    summer break: Just as long as you don’t start with the frogs legs that will be fine.

  11. island1 says:

    And on that note I disappear for ten days on my summer hols, see you all bright eyes and bushy tailed when I get back.

  12. anglopole says:

    I live in on the border of Herts and Beds but today was really more like Barbados:)))) Storms are coming – not the brain storms, though! Too many Poles around! ;)

  13. me says:

    happy holidays island1. Come back safe.

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