“Just another guy with a blog.  No big whoop.”

April 3, 2010

How Poland (still) sees America

Interesting. Kind of funny, too. Rose-colored glasses must be big sellers in Poland.

America, the promised land for all Poles. For more than a century, thousands emigrated from Poland to the U.S. in search of their American dream and sent their hard-earned dollars back home.

The greenback seemed like god. Especially during the second half of the 20th century, one U.S. dollar bought an amazing lot in Poland where the average pay at times was a mere $20 per month.

Two or three decades ago, you could buy an apartment in Warsaw for $5,000 — roughly the amount a Manhattan cleaning lady from Poland can save within several months! (Today, you could buy no more than a square meter for it.)

Landline phones worked in the U.S., while in Poland you had to wait for 20 years to get installed. Cable television gave you dozens of channels to choose from, while in Poland two state-owned channels would only rarely show production from the First World. Blake Carrington even had a mobile phone in his limo! Wow, America was the paradise on earth indeed.

Notwithstanding that in 2010 you can get a mobile phone in Poland within minutes and it costs next to nothing, that there are hundreds of TV channels in Polish, and the U.S. dollar no longer buys all that much, some people still nurture the image of America that they created in their hearts some time during the last century.

Here’s the latest example, from conservative daily Rzeczpospolita, which writes on its blog today:

“What does a tourist see zipping through America over one week? He sees unlocked doors in suburbia, unlocked cars and bicycles left on the porch, not strapped to anything. He sees people who smile to each other on the street completely for no reason. He doesn’t see anyone littering. He sees that each and every car stops at the Stop sign that’s on every street corner instead of traffic lights. And no driver or almost no driver exceeds the speed limit and it won’t even occur to the driver not to stop before a pedestrian crossing even if the pedestrian is only getting ready to cross the street.”

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