Returning to my arrival to the Village. Recap: I was installed in my Archives room at PZU, I had met Misiu and unfortunately his girlfriend and had more than 2 weeks to kill before school started. What’s a girl to do? Go to the Baltic Sea!
One of my university friends had been to Poland on a student exchange and had sent my contact information to her best Polish friend. He lived at the Baltic Sea and true to Polish hospitality invited me for 2 weeks.
I set out on my journey which involved one short bus ride and then another longer bus ride to Poznań where I needed to change to the train and continue on to the sea. I was very proud that I made it to Poznań by bus, but realized that I did not know where the train station was. I asked some college students and not only did they show me the way, they also helped me buy a ticket and got me on the train. I thanked them profusely and then I was off!
I was really stressed on the train. I was worried that I wouldn’t get off at the right stop (I didn’t realize that my stop was the last) or that someone would rob me. I started my journey in a compartment full of older people. I felt as if I should have my name and destination pinned to my sweater like a child. The older people slowly departed and a group of painters returning from work got in. They offered me a shot of vodka, but I thought it best to decline.
Then the painters departed and I was finally alone and could relax. The conductor had been around a few times to check everyone’s tickets and since he had already checked mine more than once, I was surprised to see him again. He was saying something to me in Polish, but I didn’t understand anything. That’s a shame because maybe if I had, I could have avoided what came next.
The smiling conductor closed the door to the compartment along with the curtains and locked the door. I straightened up in my seat. I started to protest when a large hand struck me across the head and face. As I had never been hit in the head before, accidentally or on purpose, I was out for a moment. As the little birdies flying around my head dispersed, I could feel the conductor grabbing me between my legs and opening his belt. I knew that I had to react and save myself from whatever he was planning. I had taken some self-defense course required at university, and had always had a mental blockade to screaming and to hitting someone. The blockade goes out the window when you are being attacked for real, not by some self-defense instructor in a padded suit. I kicked, hit and scratched the conductor and jumped up and began screaming and banging on the door. Luckily for me, it was only about 10 minutes to the last stop and people had already began congregating in the corridor of the train. The other passengers began screaming back and in a matter of seconds the door was unlocked by the conductor and he was scurrying away clutching his opened zipper and belt in his hands. The other passengers asked me if I was ok and if someone was waiting for me. I was never so happy to see the smiling face of my new friend waiting for me and I think the first thing I told him was that this country is messed up and that I wanted to go home.
PS If you get lost in Poland and need help, I recommend asking some young people. It worked for me in Poznań. Another time it didn’t work out for me as I asked a young, handsome man, “Do you speak English?” to which he replied, “Yes, only. I’m Dutch.” Oh, well.
PS2 Return the favor and help someone out who looks lost. Once I helped some tourists in the City. They were lost and couldn’t find the Market Square which was visible from where we were standing. Their problem was that they had a map that only included the Market Square, not the surrounding streets, and it was a pop-up map no less.