I think I’ll just stick with “Nie wiem”

I don’t know about you but I’m getting pretty tired of people asking me directions and then ignoring what I say. Twice today I’ve had people on Ul. Złota asking me directions. First was a middle aged lady looking for the Holiday Inn, which was literally 50m away across the street. Because it didn’t have a flashing neon sign 100m high, she sort of wandered off in that general direction but was still looking around as if she didn’t believe me.

Just now was a young lad looking for ING Bank at number 44. He didn’t seem to know whether he was looking for a branch or an office but I pointed him in the direction of the nearest ING place which is also 50m away across the street. He just wandered off in the other direction.

Few weeks ago was a gaggle of 50’s ladies with travel luggage desperate to flash the plastic in the shopping centre. The ugliest and most aggressive of them came over and asked where the shopping centre was as if talking to a bell-boy. I told her it was the second entrance down the street. She ignored me and dragged her gaggle, luggage in tow, through the small revolving door to the office floors where they all gathered to be told what I had already told them. They promptly squeezed themselves out again and waddled off down the street. It’s at times like that I wish my ability to shout witty quips in Polish język was better than it is.

I know my accent and words might give me away as being foreign but I do understand the questions and I do give the right answers, so why just ignore me? From now on they’re all going to get a sour-faced “nie wiem”, just like they’d get from 90% of other people on the street.

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4 thoughts on “I think I’ll just stick with “Nie wiem”

  1. I hate being asked directions, too :P. I live in Warsaw for 4 years, but still I haven’t got a map carved in my brain. The worst thing is when they ask me directions in Piaseczno (where I live), because I visit 3 places here: my house, Auchan and a veterinary clinic. But I understand thet someone might get lost here because it’s huge and a little chaotic, especially in the centre. Comparing to other Polish cities, of course.
    The funniest thing is that I know this city better than many my friends who have lived here all their lives :).

  2. Most people who come from Warsaw think the city is SOOOO big that it’s just not worth trying to know where all the streets are.

    A London cabbie would learn the way from everywhere to anywhere in Warsaw in about half an hour! ;)

  3. Perhaps you need to be firmer in your response. FROWN. POINT! Fling your arms about and then fold your arms across your chest and raise your eyebrows when you finish speaking.

    At least maybe you’ll get a “przepraszam” out of them!

  4. At least you effectively make them blush after they realise you were right.

    I think Poles still aren’t accustomed to having foreigners in their country. It’ll change, in some 30 years perhaps, but by then your Polish might be too good to test it. I wonder why they ask you, since Poles aren’t that quick to ask directions, and it’s a kind of challenge to perform. Maybe you look friendly, or something.

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