Thursday, February 02, 2006

One Way or One Day

Yesterday I set out to visit a human friend of mine in hospital in Warsaw. I had to take the metro to get there (let's say I have a phobia about air ambulances) and so entered the little underground shop to purchase a ticket. Although they never seem to stock the cheaper '60 minutes' tickets I always ask for one - the strategy being that they might one day, given the choice, decide it might be fun to offer more than 2 types of metro ticket out of the dozens that are rumoured to be available.

I ask in Polish but burn out on the exact grammar of the 60 minute aspect of the ticket. The lady behind the counter shakes her head - "Niema!" ('none' - hallowed keyword of former communist countries). My one thousandth "niema" - I feign surprise mixed with disappointment. The lady stands to attention and addressing my 'foreigner-ness' announces with great force in English:


A vision of the hospital flashed before me - the corridor lined with patients too ill or too foul-smelling to join those already in their own rooms --- those condemned to lie together in the harrowing twilight of an eternal Polish soap opera. I blinked - What was the correct choice? Why was there no mention of a return?


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