I got back from Auschwitz (the first time) at around 19:30, feeling pretty sober and not sure I wanted to do anything. But I was hungry. I went down to a local store and after much hand gesturing and nodding with big smiles, the guy behind the counter made me a couple of sausage sandwiches. The conversation went something like this:
“You want butter?” he asked, holding up a knife with butter already on it.
“No thank you.”
“A little bit.” He assured me and proceeded to spread butter on the bread.
“A little bit,” I agreed.
“You want salad?”
“A little bit.”
So I had sausage sandwiches with butter and lettuce, a bag of chips and some little Polish candies for dessert. I also grabbed a big bottle of Iced Tea to drink and headed back to the hostel. I figured I’d eat in the common room since no one was in there and I could also get some work done. So I grabbed my computer and sat on a couch. It didn’t take long for that plan to go out the window.
I ate fine and then Joe showed up. I’d met Joe the night before. He was traveling with a former roommate and two of said roommates friends. Forgive me for not remembering names (However, if anyone reading this has those names for me, I’d be most grateful). So Joe was part of a discussion about how the English are really superseding the Americans as the most obnoxious tourists in Europe. And to be fair, Joe was being picked on. Mostly because Joe was being loud and…boisterous would be a good word. So anyway, Joe comes in and has a seat,
then “The Band” comes in, who are four other blokes, also from England, who are traveling together (And were named “The Band,” by Joe, when they had first walked into the common room a night or two before). So they sit down and beers start being drunk. Now, me, I’ve got my ice tea and doing a bit of work on the computer. But I can’t resist getting in a dig every now and again, especially at Joe’s expense. Several other people drift in and out, but mostly, it’s the six of us and Tam (who shall be known as “Hat”). Eventually, the computer goes away and I take full part of the conversation. Joe offers me a beer from a stash which doesn’t belong to him (“It’s my mates and he’s sleeping, so…”) and after
initially rejecting the offer, I finally accept. With my beer open, Joe offers the toast which makes up the title of this particular entry – “Always a pleasure, never a chore.” And we drink.
So Joe wants to go out and Joe is the kind of guy who brings energy to any room he’s in. So when he wants to go out, it’s a good bet he’s going to get at least a few takers. Not in this lot, though. We’ve all been to Auschwitz and it’s a bit cold and damp outside and we’re all just really enjoying the evening’s conversation, which is ranging from history to politics to music to girls to whatever else pops into our heads. Joe nicknamed all of us (I became “The Professor” or “The Lecturer” but most everyone else had much ruder monikers) At some point Joe wakes up his mates and gets them to come out with the idea we’re all going out and they need to join us. So they come out, sleepy from their naps and we
all have a laugh and the conversations continue. Mind you, at this point it’s getting close to midnight and Joe still wants to go out.
About half twelve, Joe raises his glass to us all and says (*language alert for those with young ones reading) “You’re all a right bunch of cunts.” Now, naturally, we all take offense. But then he explains that he’s having one of the best nights of his trip just sitting around talking. Of course, this doesn’t change the fact he wants to still go out and continue the conversation in a bar somewhere. I figure you can probably guess what happens next.
So we’re all walking down the street, it’s pouring down rain, Liza and her friend (two girls from Chicago) have joined us to go dancing when there’s a police siren behind us. It seems that in Poland it is illegal to walk down the street with an open container of alcohol. And naturally, amongst our group of twelve people, we have three who are imbibing (I’ll get to imbibing in a second) and even more naturally, one of them is Joe. The police in Poland, though, are quite thoughtful and considerate when it comes to these little infractions. They take your ID (like, say, Joe’s passport) and then tell you the fine is 100 zloty (about $50 or 25 Pounds) and you can go to the cash machine right over there and pay them. Of course, if you’d rather not, you can go
down to the station at which point the fines increase since you’re putting the cops through all sorts of paperwork hassles. The other two guys who got caught ran off to a bankomat but Joe just held up his cash card, which had a rat sized corner chewed off, and explained he couldn’t get the money out. This was the point where Jason (one of The Band) and I stepped up with 50 zloty a piece and paid off the cops. Joe’s mates had gone to a bar, had a quick pint, and were on their way back with money by the time it was all sorted out. The girls, meanwhile, had just kept on walking when the cops showed up, so we could only assume they were dancing the night away.
We actually tried to find them, but the club they said they were going to was closed up tight so we all ended up in this basement bar, again having a beer and a laugh. Well, most of us were. Joe’s mates, in his words, were not IMBIBING. See, it seems this coming year, at medical school (yes, Joe is going to be a doctor who wants to go to Africa and help people) Joe is captain of his Rugby team, UBHRFC (I promised I’d give them a shout out here in the blog and I wish I could remember what that all stood for – again, I plead for help from anyone reading this) and the weird rules of Rugby say you can’t use any words which start with D so “drinking” is out which is why people this night were imbibing (I can sense a future generation gathering around a solemn table and intoning “why on all other nights do we drink OR imbibe but on this night we only imbibe?”). Evidently, there’s also a thing where if someone starts singing a song called Father Abraham (is that right?) and you join in, you have to take your clothes off. Rugby is an odd sport off the field.
So by the time we got home and into bed, it was close to 5am. And I had to get up early since I had a tour of the city starting at 10.
Just remember, when drinking anything, the toast for this trip is
“Always a pleasure”
“Never a chore.”
(Bailey and Riley, I expect you to learn this so we can toast when I get back)