The plasters, the batteries, the Audi R8 and the other.

There I was standing in the newsagents, some guy comes in and asks if they sell plasters, the kind you put on a cut finger. The sales assistant says that yes, they do sell them and points to a small box of plasters, perhaps 10 inside. They guy asks if they sell them individually. They assistant says they don’t, they only sell these small boxes. The guy walks out, dripping blood.

The same thing happens with batteries. I walked into a camera shop once to buy some regular AA batteries. I picked up a carton of 4 and handed it to the guy behind the counter. He asked me how many I wanted and I looked confused. He then asked me if I wanted the whole packet and I said that I did. I bought the whole packet of batteries and left.

There are other things that fall into my category of “sold in packets” that are often sold individually here but for the life of me I can’t remember what the others are right now. I find the whole thing very strange.

I was standing outside the office. Some guy drives up in a brand new Audi R8 (bastard!). He gets out. He looks like a reformed mafia-boy who’s addicted to pumping iron and fashion accessories. His girlfriend gets out. She looks like a Thai prostitute. They go in to the Holiday Inn. The only surprising thing about this is that the R8 is parked on the street. Even that’s not so surprising these days, there is almost always a swanky car parked on that street. It only becomes surprising when you remember back to how it was when you arrived in Poland all those years ago. In those days nobody would dream of having such a car in the country, let alone parking it on the street. I remember fondly one of my first bosses in Poland, fresh off the plane from the good old US of A, insisting that he needed a big Volvo to drive around in. Everyone told him it was a stupid idea but he wasn’t shifting his position. He got the big Volvo, it was stolen within a week of arriving. They stopped him in the street, forced him out of the car and drove off in it! He got another smaller Volvo, that was broken into within a week and then stolen within a month. He decided to use taxis.

While I’m on a nostalgia trip.

Anyone remember cash? Good old gotówka? When I arrived here I was loaded with cards, the stupid bankers had been showering me with them in the UK. It got to the point where most of my junk mail was someone sending me another credit card, usually with a picture of a dog on it or with a funky name like “The BONGO card”. So I brought all this rubbish to Poland with me and promptly discovered that it was utterly useless. In those days there was only one way to pay for things and that was cash. Give someone a credit card and they looked at you like you were mad or something so the only card that got exercised was the cash-card in ATMs and in banks to withdraw cash. Look at where we are now, the complete opposite.

Restaurants. We used to eat out a lot before the fruit of our loins arrived so we knew pretty much every restaurant in town and let me tell you, that was hard work back then. In the good old days the life expectancy of a new restaurant was about a month. They would pop up and then disappear like those gophers in the bash-the-gopher game. Always with some new “theme” and surprisingly well decorated (for something that was destined for closure). It is still a little like that but it’s calmed down considerably.

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5 thoughts on “The plasters, the batteries, the Audi R8 and the other.

  1. Scatts – I learned from people at NBP that 50% of Polish people do not have bank accounts and more than PLN 75 billion cash is in circulation so cash is still clearly a big part of Polish life – yes the younger generation (>50) have accounts and use ATM’s, etc. but go to a small deli or local shop and the majority of transactions are cash.

  2. the burning question this side of the pond is why do hotdogs come in pkgs of 6 and rolls in pkgs of 8.

    plasters …sounds like you are talking about bandaids.

  3. Hi Chris!

    I know the answer to that one – buy 4 packs of hotdogs and 3 packs of rolls!

    Plaster = bandaid. You say tomato and I say tomato. :-)

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