Czyli no good deed goes unpunished.
I like to think of myself as a Good Person. Misiu easily fits the mold of a Good Person too. We both try to be Good Role Models to our children. Being of good person isn’t that hard to do really. We don’t drink (too much), smoke, take drugs, swear (all the time), drive recklessly, lie (that they know of – I apologize in advance for the whole Santa thing, kids), litter, gossip all the neighbors (in front of them), or ignore someone in need of help. We hold doors open for others, help neighbors with heavy bags, volunteer our time, and give to charities.
I am just one small insignificant person. We are just one tiny family unit here on this planet. We cannot help the whole world, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.
Our drive home
As we drive in the dark and fog each week from the city to the village, we are always on the lookout for wild animals – first to catch the interest of the girls and second to not smash those animals to bits in the grill of the Jeep. Wild animals are not the only thing on our winding forest road that you can smash with your car. Each week we encounter cyclists with and without lights and also pedestrians sometimes walking with the traffic, sometimes against it with no flashlight or reflective clothing. Occasionally, these folks are travelling na podwójny gaz (on double gas), meaning they are under the influence of, most likely, alcohol.
This Friday was not unlike the other Fridays where we have had to swerve at the last second to just miss hitting someone who basically fell in front of or under our car (from the side). I never understood the Polish description padł pod koło samochód (he fell under the tire of the car) until we started to drive this road.
That was unexpected
We were driving as we do between Rzędziszowice and Ludgierzowice when we caught a glimpse of a man face down in the ditch on the side of the road. You know, the ditch, that mythical and magical place your mother imagined you were whenever you were late coming home. There were a lot of other cars, but nobody stopped. I’d like to think that they didn’t see him. We stopped the car, hit the emergency lights, and explained the situation to kids. Misiu went ahead with his flashlight lit to find the man in the ditch.
Mom is not always right
While Misiu was looking for the man in the ditch, the whole time I was waiting at the car with the kids saying to myself, “Please don’t be hurt. Please don’t be dead.” In my mother’s story they (whoever “they” are) find you “dead in a ditch”, so I was really hoping this case wasn’t going to prove my mother right. And here I am going to make a confession. It’s just you and me here and I trust you. I was thinking that there is no way I am going to call emergency and say, “We have a man down here on the road between Rzędziszowice and Ludgierzowice”. It is just physically impossible for me to say it. Szczebrzeszyn, no problem, but not Rzędziszowice and Ludgierzowice.
Just dazed and confused
It turned out that the man was not hit by a car. He simply fell in the ditch and could not get out. This is understandable – the ditch was deep, and it was completely dark out. He was drunk as well, but otherwise uninjured. He could talk and remember where he lived so Misiu decided to walk him home. Did I say walk? It was more like a combination of carrying and dragging, on a dark forest road, with a lot of traffic, in the rain. I was worried about that guy but I was also worried about Misiu walking back alongside that dark road. You don’t have to be drunk to get hit by a car.
Good on us
Thankfully Misiu came back – cold, wet, stinking of eau de’drunk-man-in-a-ditch, but satisfied that the man was delivered home safe and more or less sound. What’s a little stranger’s stink when you may have just saved his life? The two foxes we saw after that, normally something that would be the highlight of our drive, were anti-climatic. We gave ourselves big mental pats on the back. Misiu even joked that if I really had had to call emergency for that guy I could have dragged him to the next town – Bukowice which I can easily pronounce.
Basking in our own do-goodery, we were in a hurry to get home, at least to wash off the man’s unpleasant odor. Just a winding road, a few more twists and curves and we’d be home to bask a bit more in our good works. That’s what we were thinking when around the next curve, straight in the middle of the road in the darkness, a man sat. He seemed completely unaware that he was in grave danger of becoming a spot on the road. Bathetic meets pathetic, nie? We swerved to the left and thankfully no car was coming from the other direction. Once again we stopped the car, put on the emergency lights, explained the situation to the girls, turned on the flashlight and went –this time both of us. I wasn’t worried about calling emergency. Wierzchowice I can say.
We quickly determined the man to be drunk but conscious, sort of. There were houses around so Misiu went to try to find out who he was and where he lived. I stayed and tried to get the same information from him and coax him over to the side of the road. I was not successful in getting him to safety nor was I able to get a word of sense out of him. He repeatedly called me “Agnieszka niezłośliwy”, not niezłośliwa (harmless) which is the feminine form. He said it as if it were a last name, not an estimation of my character. After that he how-how-ed at the barking dogs between random mumbling. Then I asked him if he could make it to the side of the road if I helped him.
A little advice
For future reference, a 55-kilogram woman cannot move a 100-kilogram man using one hand and carrying a flashlight in the other hand. For additional future reference, physical contact with a drunken man from the middle of the road is ill-advised especially when this man has not recently bathed and has very recently pissed himself, shat himself and vomited all over himself. Would we do it again? Of course we would do it again, and we will always stop to make sure that random stranger is alright. However, having said that I must admit that driving the rest of the way home with your rzygi hand out the window will really reduce your satisfaction in most likely saving a man’s life from the impending log truck speeding down the hill.
PS His name was Józek.
WojtekNovember 9, 2014 at 11:13 pm
Nieciekawa sytuacja ale zawsze może być gorzej. Co dalej stało się z mężczyzną leżącym w rowie ?
IzabelaNovember 10, 2014 at 4:59 am
Oh, wow. Poland is still Poland. In Poland I lived in the big city but spent summers in small places and it happened all the time, on Fridays and Saturdays. I forgot about it. Here (USA, small city), the \”regular\” pedestrian is so rare….I forgot about \”this\” site of Poland. I don't miss it. Stay safe!You are a great example for your kids. Right now they know more about life. Life in Poland.
ChrisNovember 10, 2014 at 7:12 am
Izabela- A few times as regular pedestrians in the States, we were offered rides by complete strangers who were surprised to learn we were on foot on purpose.Wojtek – We were able to round up some neighbors – 2 young men – who knew the man and helped us get him to the side of the road. I asked if they could get him home safe. They replied that he doesn't really live at home anymore and his family really wouldn't appreciate the fact that he was brought home safe. Anyhow these gentlemen said they'd take care of him and we could go. After that I started to think that perhaps we tampered with this man's destiny. A man from our village died last year drunk on the side of the road. His family was relieved for themselves and for him and yet still so angry at everything he'd put them through that nobody wanted to arrange his funeral. The rest of our weekend has been quite uneventful.
MeNovember 10, 2014 at 3:47 pm
Wiem, nie powinienem ale uśmiałem się czytając o problemie z wymową miejscowości oraz czytając o Twoim kontakcie z pijanym mężczyzną i jego \”Agnieszka niezłośliwy\”. Na marginesie: niezłośliwy to raczej non wicked, harmless znaczy nieszkodliwy.Ja osobiście nie piję alkoholu prawie wcale (toast noworoczny lub przy innej okazji, niewiele więcej) ponieważ mam silną awersję do pijanych i sam nie chciałbym być pijanym bo miałem z nimi wiele do czynienia i po prostu ich nie znoszę, bardzo(!). Zawsze czuję się odpowiedzialny za pijanych, za zaopiekowanie się nimi, to mnie doprowadza do szewskiej pasji, ale i tak im pomagam (niejedną historię mógłbym opowiedzieć o odprowadzeniu lub \”zadźwiganiu\” pijanej osoby do domu lub w inne docelowe miejsce).Ale pijani to jedna z tych rzeczy, które najbardziej mnie … denerwują (eufemistycznie ujmując). Nie rozumiem, nie popieram, nie znoszę. I irytuje mnie, że to nadal takie powszechne zjawisko u nas.
Beer GuzzlerNovember 11, 2014 at 12:43 pm
Jesus H. Christ. Can't think of many other countries where a story like this would be plausible. :(Hats off to you both for handling these guys the way you did. I'm not sure what I would have done (have lived in Belgium for 15 years and never once seen anything like this), but my usual reaction to drunkenness is disgust quickly followed by anger.For future reference, another option worth considering are drunk tanks (\”izby wytrzeźwień\”). Just call the cops and wait till they arrive while the drunken cunt stews in his piss. That way you can help thy neighbor without touching him, he gets billed for his stupidity, and you avoid some laundering and PTSD. Anyway, huge respect for doing what you did and especially for explaining the situation to your kids in, I'm sure, an appropriate manner.Obviously, natural selection will do its work sooner or later, won't it. There's only so much you can do for people that far gone. :(PS. I do realize the irony of my internet handle… I don't actually guzzle beer, or anything else for that matter. 😛
ChrisNovember 11, 2014 at 6:25 pm
Me – I am not much of a drinker either and haven't been \”drunk\” in about 20 years. After a drink or two, I don't become the life of the party. I snuggle in between two warm bodies on the couch and slowly fall asleep. It's so nice.Guzzler – We were thinking about calling the police especially for the second guy who was totally out of it. Next time I'll just call and avoid physical contact and the PTSD as you mentioned. Gawd, I want to gag just thinking about the smell.As you may suppose last Friday wasn't the only time I tried to help a stranger. I helped a lady who fainted in Krakow. It was an unusually warm day in March and she was wearing a fur coat and hat. I helped a guy once in Wroclaw who basically went \”tim-ber\” face down on the sidewalk. He was an Irish man here for his stag party. Before I even helped him the city police were running across the square. They had seen him on the street camera. I also used to feed stray runaway teenagers in my apartment block when we lived near the train station. There's more but you get the idea. I'm weird.
Beer GuzzlerNovember 11, 2014 at 9:42 pm
Weird? You're wonderful. While I like to think of myself as Mr. Nice Guy, my compassion policy does not cover drunks and other drug users, and I'd probably never let any random person into my home. How you managed not to become cynical and misanthropic after a few years in a country with so much self-inflicted social misery is beyond me!
MeNovember 11, 2014 at 10:54 pm
Żeby tylko Policja nie zlekceważyła/olała Twojego telefonu w sprawie pijanego. Wszak mieszkamy w Polsce.
czarownicaNovember 11, 2014 at 11:05 pm
What about a totally pissed man in his suit jacket and knickers, barefoot, wobbling in the middle of the road in the November fog, just after the over 90-deg curve, huh?Noticed him last minute, miraculously avoiding to run over him, and what dit I get in return? Stek bluzgow, of course :)BTW, if you're gonna play a good Samaritan ever again, please put a box of disposable gloves into your car boot. And never, ever touch anybody on the road without wearing this protection. Not only against rzygi, Hep B can be even more troublesome.
ChrisNovember 12, 2014 at 11:39 am
BG – I am more cynical than I used to be, but I just know that the one time I dismiss that person as just a drunk or whatever, it is going to be the time that it is an accident or diabetic shock or something like that. I also never let those teens in my home or know which apt was mine. They came to sleep in my building each night when the station was closed. Me – I have had to call the police before, hence my fear of (mis)pronouncing the town names. In my experience, the police are surprised that a foreigner is calling that they send somebody to check it out…eventually.czar – Misiu and I were talking about medical personnel who have to deal with these people and their problems/smells. I thought about you for moment (because of medicine not smells). I think it is safe to say that I will avoid physical contact in the future and the gloves in the car is an excellent idea. You are right, hepatitis doesn't wash off. Getting served a stek bluzgow isn't nice, is it?
AnonymousNovember 13, 2014 at 7:22 pm
uch,alez nadurodzaj pijaków!!!znam te rejony, tez tam jezdzimy czesto na weekendy (ojciec ma letnisko). z kolei we wspomnianych wierzchowicach w ogole bylo kiedys takie masakryczne disco, ludzie uchlani lezeli w lesie jak grzyby w weekendy, groza…polecam mieć w aucie zel odkarzajacy i chustki wilgotne do rąk, przydają się…serdecznie pozdrawiam!mt
ChrisNovember 14, 2014 at 1:00 pm
mt – Small world. Nie pamiętam disco tam ale pamiętam disco w Twardogóra i jakiś aktor Wrocławskie był właścicielem. Pamiętaś coś takiego?
AnonymousNovember 14, 2014 at 6:42 pm
TAAAK! dawne kino Zryw, ktore kupil Robert Gonera 🙂 small world, naprawde disco w wierzchowicach kojarze tylko ze wzgledu na pijakow na drodze 😉 a kino juz podobno nie istnieje.dobrego weekendu! :)mt
ChrisNovember 16, 2014 at 5:45 pm
mt – What about the scene in Pociąg do Hollywood where Kasia Figura leaves her home village Gruszeczka? 😉
notsNovember 20, 2014 at 1:50 am
Pretty much the only context for \”niezłośliwy\” in the masculine form I'd expect to be used by someone like this guy would be \”niezłośliwy [rak]\” – a benign tumour. Could be he got drunk after hearing about Agnieszka's test results.