Sunday, 3 April 2011

How the tide has turned...

Probably the last follow-up to the story of 1,000 PLN I lent to my ex-classmate over 10 months ago, the money I've never seen again.

Now the issue is no longer about money. I haven't got a single zloty back and totally got over the loss. I don't hold out much hopes to recover it, but Karol's family pledged to give it back to me as soon as it gets warmer and their heating expenses go down. Time to keep my fingers crossed for the weather ;-) I'm sticking to my resolution from the previous year to relieve the part of that debt as soon as they begin to pay it back. Their financial (not only) situation is far from enviable, although they said it was a matter of honour for them to pay off everyone who had trusted Karol and had given him money. They also admitted they had had to give money back to those of Karol's friends with who Karol had signed loan agreements and who had threatened to take Karol to the court. And because my ex-friend has long been insolvent this would clearly mean Karol would end up in jail, the scenario his family wanted to fend off most.

I spoke to his mother twice since my last post. Now I know I was wrong and he doesn't suffer from schizophrenia, and others who told it was gambling were right. I can't even say I'm surprised. He won several times a few hundred zlotys in the pools by betting results of football games back in 2003. I even found an article in my high-school newspaper dated December 2003 in which his brother, Adam, had extolled the betting as a quick way to come into some money. As it usually is in the case of gambling, he would win many times, got some more money, felt much more self-confident, began to bet higher stakes and... The losses began. Not hard to imagine how it probably went by...

I won't reveal much details from what I was said, but this is generally shocking. He is now absolutely aware what he has done, he does have remorse and his prospects on returning to normal life, as his mental health, are bad, very bad.

A few years ago, if somebody had told he would end up like this, I would have found it hard to believe, but I wouldn't have ruled it out. As I wrote in the first post, he had the proclivity for wheeling and dealing (kombinowanie), which few people discerned. But actually almost everyone who has known both of us would say Karol would probably be better off in life than me. Given his IQ (surely higher than mine, his mother was told this intelligence dragged him down in critical moments) and resourcefulness, he was predestined to achieve bigger success in life than me. The tide has turned, unexpectedly.

This should make us ponder upon social mobility and what its determinants are. Some people come from poor families and are not very skillful, but by dint of their determination and hard work (plus a bit of luck) grow from rags to riches. Karol's family was well-off (before he incurred debts of around 150,000 PLN), well-educated and he was extremely intelligent and apt. He destroyed all ample opportunities life had given him at his own behest... How come, I ask myself almost every day...

I feel now most sorry for his family. His brother doesn't understand the pernicious addiction is to blame. His parents try to bring him back to life, but are at the end of their tether... Uncertainty is what life is about. Now it's OK, but I don't know what happens in a few months or years. I cope with it by not taking for granted everything will be alright. It sometimes helps fend off mishaps :)

The length of today's post is sponsored by:
1) a purchase of a new LED TV (my parent's 18-year-old TV set has given up the ghost),
2) grappling with putting my MA thesis through anti-plagiarism system, printing it with dozens of attachments and having it bound...,
3) inauguration of gardening season,
4) cycling shake-down day. I just came back from a short ride around Nowa Iwiczna and Mysiadło. Weather permitting next week I shall cycle at least 10 kilometres.

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