Polish Language Blog

Polish Pessimism Posted by on Aug 27, 2008 in Culture

A friend sent me this link and asked me what I thought about it. Go ahead, read it, it’s in English.
So, apparently, Poles are pessimistic about the future. And how exactly is that news? Poles think that the country is heading in the wrong direction. Yeah, what else is new?

Complaining about the future of the country is a long-standing Polish tradition. My countrymen have been doing it pretty much continuously for the past 1000 years, if not longer. I’m pretty sure that back in the days of Mieszko I the local tribe leaders would get together, drink mead and complain about the direction Poland was heading. And then they would drink some more mead. And complain some more. And it’s been going on like that until now. Except these days mead is no longer in vogue and people prefer vodka. And instead of Mieszko I, we now kvetch about what Mr. Tusk and Mr. Kaczyński are doing.

Why are Poles like that? Why are we so gloomy and pessimistic about the future?

These days Poland seems better than ever. There’s construction everywhere, the streets are clogged with shiny cars, and the people are well dressed in foreign fashions and well fed on imported and locally produced yummies. There’s toilet paper in the stores, tampons and plenty of everything. Those who want can leave the country and move elsewhere to work or study. Those who can afford it can travel pretty much to wherever they desire. And those who can’t afford it still do it and just charge it on their credit cards.
I mean, things can’t be that bad in Poland if those who left four years ago are coming back now, right?

Yet you ask any random Pole how things are and you will hear “bad”, or “it’s getting worse”.

So, out of curiosity, today I decided to experiment a little and asked a couple of my friends how they were doing. What can I say? I was bored. But the results were very telling.

Anna: “hey! Long time no hear! So, how are things?”
Friend #1 (sounding a bit apprehensive): “Oh, hey. Oh, you know…”
Anna (decides to play stupid): “Know what?”
Friend #1: “Same old, same old… nothing ever changes. And if it does, then it’s not for the better. I tell you, this country is going down the tubes.”
Anna: “So I hear. So, tell me, how’s your new house coming along?” (my friend is building a massive new family dwelling, big enough for about 20 people)
Friend #1: “Oh yeah! It’s gonna be great. You totally have to come and visit. You’ll love it. But when I think about how much it’s going to cost to furnish this thing…”

And so on…
My conversation with friend #2 went more or less like this:

Friend #2: “This country is a total mess. Nothing ever works. It’s getting worse and worse.”
Anna: “So I’ve been reading. Anything new?”
Friend #2: “Oh yeah, I just bought a new BMW.”

And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. If a Pole is not complaining, check his pulse. He’s probably dead.

photo: BiLK_Thorn

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  1. DeeAnn:

    Anna, this post made me really laugh because it’s so true.

  2. Anna:

    unfortunately it is… 😉

  3. Andre:


    thanks for the great post! It’s inspired me to write one of my own, thanks for being my muse!



  4. Anna:

    Hi Andre!
    Inspiring? Moi? That’s a first! 😉 Thank you!

  5. kuzeymavisi:

    your last sentence made me smile :))
    but i heard something like this for germans: ”if german hasnt got a watch in his/her wrist (arm)…he/she doesnt live at all” 🙂 you know they are always punctual and well-disciplined like a soldier. i have been working in tourism since two years, i couldnt meet a german person who late for meeting-time. (just a few)…am i right?