An assortment of words and phrases as typed by me. It's not that I have anything to say, I just love the sound of my own typing...

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Toilet 2012: 'public loos are improving'

Here's an interesting news story:

It's interesting to note that most of the public toilets included in the survey are actually private (hotels, restaurants, airports). I am of the opinion that Poles have very strong bowels, because it is rather difficult to find public toilets outside of these places. Maybe they are there, but are just well hidden. Perhaps there is a secret Polish word for 'where the toilets are' that they don't share with foreigners. I suspect it rhymes with 'drzewo.'

That is unless you call mysterious blue boxes found on the side of the street 'available for the public.'
My two favourite girls waiting for 'the doctor'...

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Monthly Journal Oct 2009

“Faith is not belief. Belief is passive. Faith is active”
- Edith Hamilton

Hello fellow compatriots!

I bought a new dictionary the other day. It has 72,000 words in it, and I think I know all of the English ones already. It’s the 30,000 Polish words in it that I don’t know.

The weather is starting to get cold now (last night it dropped down to 2 degrees), which should make you Aussies less jealous. One of the disadvantages of having central heating throughout the entire block of flats is that we don’t decide when to turn it on. Maybe they are waiting for the first snow. Who knows?

We are all back at school now. This week I have 25 hours of teaching (that’s 25 hours of standing up and talking), and Jola has started working five days a week (she only has to talk for about 11 hours, but because she is teaching little kids she has to talk twice as loud). I think Ela would make a good teacher because she talks for about 10 hours a day with little or no encouragement – sometimes we turn on the TV just so that she will stop talking for half an hour.

I think most of the regular people at the playground know our names now – thanks mostly to Ela. And they all think that we speak German…
Talking about speaking, Captain Rhubarb is learning a lot of words very quickly now. I think he has taken so long to talk because he got his teeth late. Or maybe it’s because he can never get a word in edgeways because Ela does so much talking. Before he goes to bed at night he says: pa pa Mama, pa pa Daddy, pa pa Lella, pa pa Becky. (I have taken special care to teach him the English 'Daddy' instead of the Polish 'Tata'.)

I had a couple of comments from the last monthly journal that I had lost some weight. Well, it's true. We bought some bathroom scales and I discovered that I had lost about 10 kilo's since leaving Australia. I'm not sure if it's because of the food, because we don't have a car, or because of my job. But in any event, it's nice to have more energy and to be able to play with my kids at the playground (yes, on the swings!).
I have also had a few comments (based on what people read in these monthly journals) suggesting that I start writing professionally. I think I would like that, but I don't really have the imagination to write novels and there are very few English speaking newspapers that need a correspondent in south-west Poland (although it is a world centre for Boleslawiec pottery and tissue-paper making machines).

Last weekend was Jola's birthday. We had streamers and balloons and THREE cakes! As a family, we really like cakes. We did a test on Facebook to decide what Jola's real age is, and so we have just celebrated her 21st birthday again.
Unfortunately Jola couldn't celebrate too much because she has started writing her thesis for her Masters. It's a bit boring.
Jola: Hey! My thesis is not boring at all! It’s still rather short but as it gets longer I'm sure it will get more and more interesting?? That's what I say to myself anyway…

Congratulations to everyone who has got married or got pregnant (or both) in the last couple of months! (We know who you are, even if nobody else is supposed to know yet).

So long!

Malcolm, Jola, Ela & Chris

PS. As I am sending this it has started snowing...

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Polish Customer Service. Fact or Fiction?

I really don't like to complain. Most Poles are very helpful and courteous – that is until they are given a position of authority. Every now and then I come across exceptionally poor customer service. It saddens me to think how much more efficient everything would be if people actually did what they say they are going to do…

On Thursday night our modem stopped working, so on Friday I went to the local office of our internet company and told them that our modem was broken, and asked if I could buy a replacement. They had a look on their computer and said that it probably wasn't my modem, but the signal. So I was told to wait for a call for the service people sometime before 5 and they would fix everything. I thought 'fine' and went home waiting for a call.

At five to five we still hadn't received a call, so my dutiful wife called them up and was told that the service people were probably busy, and so we would get a call sometime the next morning (how hard would it have been for the office people to say within the next 24 hours instead of by 5?).

The next morning we received the call. My wife explained the problem and the service people said that it was obviously a modem problem and that we should take the modem back to the office for a replacement. At this point I wasn't very happy, because I had done this the previous day.

So we took the modem back to the office where we were told that before we could get a replacement we had to supply not only the modem, but also all of the cables with the original box and CD! I did well not to lose my temper. Why couldn't we have been told this the before?

(If you are reading this, it means that we have somehow sorted the problem out and have internet again)

Today I bought some bread from our local store. The bread has always cost 2.19, it even says so on the shelf. But when I got to the checkout the lady said it was 2.30. My response was: no, it's 2.19 (I said it a few times in Polish). However she must have realised that I'm not Polish and simply smiled and pointed to the price on the checkout. Because I wanted the bread and didn't want to waste any more time over 11 groszy (5 cents Australian, or 2pence), I paid her and left. Obviously someone changed the price in the computers, but couldn't be bothered changing the price on the shelf. This is not only bad customer service, but in Australia it is illegal.

I think the problem is that Poles don't complain to the right people. They love complaining/gossiping amongst themselves and their friends, but they very rarely make official complaints. Maybe they are embarrassed, or they think that nothing will change, or they don't to cause any problems. This is most likely due to the years of repressive government that they endured. However the time has come to move on. Poland has been a free country for quite a few years now. It's time to take the next step and for the people to start demanding that other people/organisations/government do what they say they will do. The days of accepting the mediocre and inefficient is over.