Tag Archives: kominiarz

The kominiarz con?

I don’t often talk about my other writing outlets on Polandian because I assume everyone knows how wildly famous and loved I am already—they’re just too polite to mention it. This is also my working theory for why people never ask for my autograph on the street and why strangers never buy me drinks in bars. I regularly get soundly spanked in the comments to my Okiem Angola posts, which I don’t mind at all, partly because I thoroughly deserve it and partly because I don’t understand them well enough to get viscerally angry. I’ve been advised to spierdalaj off to my own country more regularly than a Basra-based Marine. My resistance to the defenders of Poland’s honour is approaching superbug levels. I only bring it up now because of the weird response I got to a recent post about chimney sweeps.

Am I really famous if there are no comments?

The piece was about a recent visit by a kominiarz (chimney sweep) begging for money. If you’ve never been to Poland, or you haven’t been here long, I should explain that Polish chimney sweeps are the subject of various superstitions here—touching their buttons is supposed to bring you good luck. I have no idea why this is and I’m not convinced my life would be better if I did. One of the ways Polish chimney sweeps take advantage of their superpowers is by traipsing around to every building in town and handing out rubbish calendars in exchange for reluctantly accepted cash. If you haven’t read the post, and who would blame you, let me summarise it like this: a drunk man dressed in a chimney sweep’s uniform turned up at my door and offered to exchange an utterly useless piece of paper for a 20-zed note on the grounds that he had saved my life by ensuring my building had proper ventilation. I also made a lot of smart-arsed and irresistibly amusing remarks about superstitions, priests and the advantages of tipping Internet writers with anonymous donations, but the drunkenness, the money and the chimney sweep are the things to focus on here.

I received the usual mix of death threats, offers of marriage and mildly alarming lunacy in the comments, but also a lot of comments claiming that my chimney sweep wasn’t genuine. I was disappointed and confused. Here is a typical comment:

Pozdrawiam kominiarzy

To my kominiarze mamy problem bo ludzie chcą nam guziki wyrywać. Popieram kolegę, żaden prawdziwy kominiarz nie rozdaje kalendarzyków, a tym bardziej nie chodzi pod wpływem alkoholu do pracy bo uprawnienia można stracić (a co gorzej zdrowie,lub życie). A co do przesądu to poczytaj pan sobie na necie. Pozdrawiam kominiarzy.

And my ham-fisted and self-serving translation:

Cheers to chimney sweeps

We chimney sweeps have enough problem with people constantly wanting to play with our buttons. No real chimney sweep would distribute calendars or work under the influence of alcohol because it costs you strength (not to mention health and your life). You can find out about the superstition on the Internet. Cheers to chimney sweeps [in case you didn’t get it the first time]

So my question is this: are there really fake chimney sweeps around and, if not, why are we supposed to give money to real chimney sweeps anyway? I beg, and promise to accept, the wisdom of the Internet on this one.

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