Slow Down

Ordnung: well-known perfection

Traveling by Deutsche Bahn is the fastest public transport I know. Furthermore, you can be sure that you will get where you want to go on time. For example, the way from Jena to Frankfurt (Oder) is almost perfectly designed to every passenger’s schedule. With all its four of five changes, travel is still comfortable and gives you a lot of time to read something, eat, cut a short nap. If reading, so it has to be a magazine, newspaper or a local tabloid – always up-to-date, books – only timeless ones. Trains should start their engines just right on time, thus any kind of delay is needless.

Opoznienie: a forced break

You cross the border and… “the train is about 50 minutes delayed.” In that case you can: a) go to the waiting-room and take a rest; b) have a coffee in the nearest cafeteria; c) walk around the city you “stuck” into. If you are lucky enough, you can meet some foreigners and find the love of your life – who knows? Local bars: smell of fresh coffee beans, sweet pastry with icing and scent of latest news from local newspapers is what can make your stop during your trip almost perfect. Traveling in Poland has something to do with a real adventure. In fact, it is an adventure. You set out on a journey completely alone and after some time you know all those never-ending stories about “an old lady and her everlasting problems with pigeons sitting on her window sill” or a guy who will find with his diving rod a source of life-giving energy. Just for you.

FAKED QUEUES, photo by author

Anstehen: designed queue

The line of people seems to be very long today and it’s even a bit crooked, so German “order” is what slowly seems to fade away. About 30 people standing in the almost-straight constellation. Only one from the entire group, little brown puppy, sticks out beyond the white line. Someone is on the phone at the moment explaining that he will be late, maybe because of this long queue that we both are stuck in. Lady behind me postponed her meeting from Friday to Saturday and after a short while decided to move it back to Friday – absent-mindless or hidden indecisiveness? Completely uncontrolled! The best thing while standing in a queue in Jena is that everybody has the real understanding for overworked staff in cities’ main Bürgerbüro. There are Christmas, Easter, New Year and many more reasons to wait for something and to stand for a while in queue with others. No complaints.

Poczekalnia: you won’t get bored

“Darling! You don’t know anything about queues then, do you? Have you ever stood in a <<real>> one?” Because the “real” queue, as older Poles might say, started on Monday and finished on Thursday, so it took about two days or even more to buy a washing machine or brand new wooden furniture. In the “real queue” you kept the place along with your brother-in-law and your brother’s-in-law buddy, of course there were shifts and breaks. “Nowadays nothing seems to be as it was before… even queues.” But even nowadays something unpredictable might happen while standing in a queue. And so young lady, who was standing at the very end, suddenly appears in front of you, trying to explain that in fact she was first and you should be standing somewhere else. What you should do right now is simply to quarrel. Maybe not because you have a really bad day or you were fired yesterday, but just to make this moment full. Small quarrels make Polish queue full and believe me or not -demand your place in the line!

So what should you do if you discovered lack of German organization in the middle of the day or Poles patiently standing in a long queue at the post office? Well, first of all – don’t panic, because many things have changed during the last century.


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