Trip To Poland

According to Professor Russell, the Wawrowicz group had accomplished under these conditions world class research which was presented flawlessly at conferences in Europe. I was astounded that such results could come from these bleak laboratories.

The audience listens attentively to my talk but no questions are forthcoming during or after. At Wawrowicz’s place over Bosman Beer, various issues are raised, and we have a good discussion. Here students participate freely and speak their mind. There is a feeling of safety and freedom in his home that was not apparent at the Institute.

Micky does not drink. Not even a drop of alcoholic beverage. He is driving. He has the responsibility to get me back to the Hotel. Professor Wawrowicz tells me that the penalties for drinking before driving are so severe that such a possibility is unthinkable. He doesn’t go into details, but it’s apparent that the penalty is more than just losing your license.

The next day is devoted entirely to talking with Micky’s students and himself. Their work resembles ours and many questions are bandied back and forth. Hopefully the students are inspired to continue with their studies.

Another day is spent viewing Museums, Memorials and Reconstruction scenes from World War II, checking out souvenir shops and walking around the city square.

Here I find a number of individuals obviously hawking something, but they have nothing to show in the way of wares. When I pause to look their way, one guy nudges me and speaks to me in Polish, but I don’t understand. I shoulder myself away and ask Micky what he wanted.

“Money.”

“Money? I don’t understand.”

“Black Market Money.”

“What’s that?”

“American money. American money is the most valued money around here and they hope you will sell them some. You look American.”

“Why would I do that? I have all this Polish money with me. I don’t even know how to spend it all. Why would I want to sell my American money and get back zlotys?”

“But they don’t know that. They think you are short of Polish money and have American dollars.”

“Is that legal?”

“Of course not.”

“Well, why don’t they get caught right here in the open?”

“Sometimes they do. But now is a lax time. Even the government has people out here trying to buy American money on the Black Market. The government also needs American dollars!”

“Unbelievable. The government in the Black Market?”

“There is a lot of unbelievable government stuff going on.”

Over coffee and cakes, we talk.

“How much does your car cost?” I ask.

“It depends on whether the buyer pays in zlotys or American dollars.”

“What? How can a purchase be made in American dollars?”

“I have two bank accounts. One is in Polish zlotys the other is in American dollars.”

“You have a bank account in American dollars?”

“Everyone does. That’s how the system works.”

“Amazing. Where did you get your American dollars?”

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Ed Janzen is the editor and publisher of CANADIAN STORIES, a literary folk magazine that publishes short stories and poems from Canadian writers of every province of Canada. Story Quilt is an electronic magazine similar in content. Ed has written four memoirs. He also writes for the old car hobby and has a column in OLD AUTOS - a biweekly newspaper featuring mostly Canadians events and automotive history.
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