In our pursuit of the latest in scientifically proven comparisons ‘tween Poland and the UK, we commissioned a wide-ranging study of “Problems and their resolution”.
The results of the data, gathered over many years, can be seen in the chart below (click to enlarge):
The study looked at thousands of problems faced by people in both their everyday and working lives. It concentrated on those problems with a total life-span of 30 days. In the table, the bottom axis is time (in days) and the side axis is the magnitude of the problem as measured by the stress level of the person experiencing the problem. For comparison, the upper stress level of 60 is the equivalent of a small heart attack.
As you can see, the trend in Poland is for there to initially be a denial that any problem exists. By the time the problem is recognized, it is already quite a big one. It should be noted that the size of the problem at this stage is often exaggerated by the attitude of those who highlighted the problem in the first place. This is especially true where any government body or other large institution is involved. There then follows a short period of running around like a headless chicken wondering what to do, which is immediately followed by a period of relief that is usually triggered by the discovery that a piece of paper was stamped appropriately at the time.
This period of relief though, is very short lived. The false hope of having one piece of paper stamped is nearly always followed by the realisation that another five papers were not stamped, that the appropriate notice was not served on the due date and that Święty Mikołaj does not exist after all! To make matters worse, the possible consequences of these omissions have escalated beyond all reasonable expectations to the point that you, your family and anyone who ever knew you are now facing a 5-10 stretch in pokey (jail), deportation and financial ruin. Your stress level peaks and stays there for a while as you desperately seek a resolution by talking to everyone you know and seeing how they can help, or who they know.
Fortunately for the Pole with a problem, a solution is always found. The resolution is usually very swift, comprehensive and quite often from an unexpected source. The solution may, or most likely does not, address the root of the problem but does provide sufficient comfort that the problem can safely be ignored. For example; if to do something properly (legally, correctly) means that a person needs to complete A, B, C, D, E and F, in sequence before they can be issued with G and the person in question only has A and C. The resolution may well be the finding of a person who is happy to issue G without the need to inspect A-F. With this, the Pole with a problem can enjoy a peaceful, but slightly poorer, last 10 days of the month.
As the chart shows, the situation in the UK is somewhat different. Problems are easily identified because everyone knows the rules and the systems the country has for identifying sheep that have strayed from the fold are many, sophisticated, joined-up and don’t break down too often. Once a problem is identified then, it is very easy to understand what the problem is, exactly, what the consequences are, exactly, and what, exactly, needs to be done to fix it. The tricky part about problems in the UK is that there are no people who are able to provide G without having seen A-F because the issue of A-F are entered into a computer system and even if you try to press the “print G” button you’ll just get an error message “Cannot print G – don’t have A-F. This error message has been copied to your supervisor and CCTV monitoring of your desk and bugging of your phone have been activated!”.
So, the UK curve is rather flat because the problem is very easily identified and scoped, the stress levels tend to remain within reasonable limits but because the problem is harder to resolve, the stress lasts all the way to the end of the 30 day period.
In Poland by contrast, none of the buttons are connected. In fact, only A, C and F actually have buttons at all, the others are done by hand with a Xerox copy being sent to an address in Warszawa that has been unused since the pipes burst some years ago now. So, pressing “print G” in Poland is impossible, because G does not have a button. What would happen is that G is written out by hand and then rubber-stamped a few times. Although the situation as regards A-F is impossible for the G-issuer to check, it is made easier by insisting that the person who wants G, brings with them their own evidence of having obtained A-F some time previously. Either that or a nice box of chocolates.
Interestingly, there have been many cases of people paying taxes for having a ‘G’ even though a ‘G’ permit had never been issued to them. This is because the tax payment buttons and the G-permit buttons are also not connected. Naturally, that fact that you have been paying taxes for a G does not count in your defence when charged with not having a G-permit:
“You appear to have a G but are unable to show me a G permit! Please pay a fine of 25,000 PLN!”
“But you must have known I have a G because I’ve been paying taxes for one for the last 8 years!”
“In that case, the fine is 25,000 for the missing G-permit and another 15,000 for incorrect payment of taxes!”
The UK equivalent would be
“Good morning! Terrible rain this, eh? I’d like to pay the tax due on my brand new G please.”
“Good morning to you, kind Sir! Can you please give me the details of your new G.”
“Certainly! Blah blah G details.”
“I’m sorry sir but there appears to be a problem. Your brand new G does not appear on my system, it is therefore impossible for you to pay any taxes for it but I would recommend that you get a G-permit quickly. Now pop down the hall and talk to Marlene, she’ll sort you out in a jiff!”
“Righty-Ho! Thank you so much for your help. Cheerio now!”
Dr. Dr. von Strummelhoffer of Cologne University has suggested the following reasons for the differences between these curves;
1/ Hundreds of years of relatively stable democratically elected government has led to peaceful and prosperous times in the UK. All the important things in life (football, pubs, The Chelsea Flower Show and Crufts) continue undisturbed and this has led the public to trust their government and therefore to accept and abide by every rule the government lays down. A combination of prosperity and government will to control the masses has led to highly sophisticated systems being installed to monitor compliance.
2/ None of # 1/ applies to Poland.
3/ “Jobsworth syndrome”, as epitomized by the statement “I can’t do that, it’s more than my job is worth” (meaning, it is unreasonable to risk my job for such a proposal) does not apply in Poland as in most cases, it is simply not true. Most Polish jobs are worth hardly anything, it is therefore entirely possible that it is worth taking a risk for a good proposal. However, in a twisted sort of way, some jobs that are worth nothing on paper, may be extremely valuable “in a plain brown envelope” and may therefore not be worth risking for anything other than the best proposals.
4/ In the UK, the same jobs are worth more and therefore the temptation to take risks is considerably reduced. Added to the fact the UK citizens are rule-followers anyway, this makes the appearance of “plain brown envelopes” very rare and much frowned upon.
Dr. Dr. von Strummelhoffer has also predicted that the Polish curve is very slowly morphing into the UK curve as the country evolves, as salaries increase and as the measures to eradicate fraud from anything other than the most surprising levels of government take effect.