Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Polish teenagers and assertiveness

Lesson from the last weekend (everything ended up happily) learnt: unfavourable circumstances will happen, but they should not serve as an excuse to hold back from blogging. The only fix are short, up-to-the point postings, like this one.

Commuting to town by train, though not as convenient as in one's own car has the same advantage as travelling by bus. Being tinned like sardines with fellow passengers means overhearing their chats and going unpunished with it. Apart from listening to ordinary grumblers who gripe about how much work they have, how stupid their boss is, one can hear what contemporary teenegers talk about with one another. I have commuted to Warsaw for almost eight years and have watched the subject matters of those talks drfiting from school goings-on, family affairs and friendships towards... partying. Almost every day I hear teenagers reminescing last weekend's booze-up, bragging about how much they drank, what they did after they got hammered, who puked first, who licked whose... Never mind... I have to say when I was 14 or 15 I wasn't an exemplary teenager. I wasn't a problem child, but I partying didn't affect negatively my performance at school, I never got really badly pissed, I never smoked, never did anything I would regret or could be ashamed of. Generally it has never occured to me that indulging in boozing can be something I can be proud of.

Yesterday I took the fast train from Radom at 7:07 from NI. I travelled with a group of first-year students who tried to cadge some money from fellow passengers, because they were suffering from hangover. They planned to knock back a few bottles of some kind of low-budget alcohol to survive first two lectures, then get hammered again and sober up during the last class. Fortunately, none of the passengers granted their request. I also said 'no'. Without hesitation, yet I wonder whether I should have used foul language to give them to understand what I thought about their stupidity. On the other hand, this could provoke at least a verbal scuffle and I actually wanted to spend the day at work, not somewhere else.

Today I took the 7:55 Warsaw-bound service. On my way to the station, as I was passing a local shop, I spotted a girl. Somehow she immediately caught my eyes. With hindsight I realised she had reminded me of someone (another long story, should be titled "I could kick myself for what I desisted from"). She looked kind of strange - unzipped jacket and low-cut blouse exposed her cleavage to easterly, chilly wind and she staggered a bit. We moved closer, staring at each other's eyes. Passing me by, she smiled, as the one she reminded me of used to smile, grabbed my arm and asked if I could buy her something... Before she finished the sentence several thoughts ran through my head. Was she hungry and wanted me to buy her food? Did she stagger because she had not eaten breakfast? Should I give her money or go with her to the shop? Surely the latter. ...because I'm under eighteen. "I'm sorry, I won't help you", I rebutted and walked away, still slightly mesmerised by her smile and bufuddled. I knew I had done what I had been supposed to do by refusing to grant her request, but unanswered questions kept nagging me...

Should I have told her off?
Should I have asked her what exactly she wanted me to buy (she could mean only cigarettes and alcohol)?
Why did she look like a tart?
How old was she? She looked like 16, but it was just next to middle school so she could be younger...
Why was she desperate to get what she wanted to get?
Should I have asked what the hell she was doing with her life and why?
Should I have tried to show interest in her situation, should I have stopped for a while and talk to her?

I have been thinking about the sitaution for some 13 hours. I told the story my colleagues at work, they treated it as an anecdote and expressed their concern about their teenage children. I worked normally but I had the girl in my mind all the time. It even prompted me to do what I do very seldom - I posted something in the middle of the week!

If I happen to meet her, provided I recognise her (I have no memory for faces), should I react anyhow? I'm not indifferent, yet I can't honestly say I care about her fate. She was a splitting image of my 'wasted chance', she reminded me about her, what actually was a reason for my emotional reaction...


Kolin said...

An interesting connection of your 'lost opportunity' with this second opportunity.

Now that you've spent this time thinking about it, I bet you'd do something different next time. She's still out there.

Pan Steeva said...

Polish kids sound like English kids ... except for the girl. Your list of reactions was fascinating. If you see her again, why not ask how much she charges?

student SGH said...

Update, update

I met that girl again. I recognised her, she must have recognised me, as we glanced at each other. But today, as I was passing her by, I felt disgust, strong disgust. She looked the same as nine days ago, but today she seemed to hideous...