It was my last day. Sitting in the pub over a glass of Żubr beer and an unfinished plate of babka ziemniaczana I was looking through the window facing the main gate of Branicki’s Palace. City workers were mounting flags on the lampposts for the coming Labor Day. The spring was working overtime with trees and flowers blooming and birds chirping their throats off. My last day was sunny and happy, as it should be.
Even though it was Friday, the pub was almost empty. Probably because there were no big soccer matches on TV. Poles love their matches… I liked the place. Wooden furnishings, marine accessories, the steady rhythm of shanties flowing from the speakers. And the selection of regional food from Podlasie: babka and kiszka ziemniaczana, kartacze, pierogi. As well as the best beer snack there is: smalczyk – a slice of bread spread with a thick layer of lard mixed with greaves.
I was having another sip of beer, when a familiar voice sounded right by my ear:
“May I join you?”
I smiled and said:
“Come on, Anka. You know, you’re always welcome. Would you like something to eat? A drink, maybe?”
She sat next to me and shook her head.
“No, thanks. I’m not hungry. And I’m driving, so I can’t drink.”
Anka Wróbel. The only person in the company I truly trusted. Intelligent, experienced, compassionate and competent. Also, quite good looking with her model figure, cute face, innocent smile and those magical, jade eyes. She didn’t fit in our rotten corporation at all.
“How about a tea, then?” – I tried again. “They have quite a good selection here.”
“Sure, tea would be great.”
I’d chosen a small table, and in her company this meeting became almost… romantic.
“So, it’s your last day, huh?” she asked.
“Yup.” – I nodded in response.
Suddenly, she grew serious.
“Are you sure you’re doing the right thing? Your situation in the company wasn’t that bad. You had a good position, respect and the money was pretty good for Białystok.”
I quickly raised my hand.
“Let me stop you right there, skarbie. I don’t want my wage to be ‘good enough for Białystok’. We’re one of the poorest regions in Poland! Earning ‘quite good money for a beggar’ somehow doesn’t fulfill my life’s ambitions. This is a justification our bosses use and one of the reasons I quit. ‘You know, this isn’t Silesia. The money is quite good for this region’. Been there, heard that. And somehow they manage to pay themselves much more – despite the region. It’s not the Middle Ages anymore. I don’t have to be bound by region. The internet lets me find jobs paying much more than Białystok’s average.”
She considered my words for a moment, playing with a lock of her blond hair.
“Ok, you’re right. But doesn’t it scare you? You’re dropping everything and starting your own business in a brand new field. And you have a mortgage to pay…”
I took another sip of beer. It slowly started to become a bit stale. Dojlidy Brewery didn’t make their beers as they used to.
“Of course, I’m afraid. I’m wetting my pants here! But fear is like a crazed horse you ride. You can either let it dominate you and carry you wherever it pleases, or you can take control of it and use its energy to go wherever you choose. And you’re right, I do have a mortgage to pay. But I don’t necessarily have to pay it using the company’s money. It’s not the only employer in town and I’m not bound by working for any company at all. Doesn’t the cult of personality in the firm bother you? The CEO is basically a god. You’re not allowed to disagree with him, you’re not allowed to criticize him. Everything has to be done as he wishes, no matter how stupid it is. It’s not my first company and I’ve seen similar situations in other ones, but not on such a scale. You basically either agree with The Big Guy, or you’re his enemy.”
She smiled, and the whole room got a bit brighter with that drop of graciousness.
“Andrzej, don’t you think you’re exaggerating a bit? It’s not that bad. I’m a mid-level manager myself and I’ve disagreed with him many times. Yet, I still work there.”
(…to be continued…)
In the Middle – An International Transposition (Fiction)
Introduction to In the Middle – An International Transposition, edited by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey
January: Forgetting – Turkey, by Seyit Ali Dastan
February: The Unreal in Real – Armenia, by Armine Asryan
March: Catching Water – Argentina, by Javier Gómez
April: Unwanted – South Africa, by Toni Wallis
May: House with a Stucco Ship – Ukraine, by Gennady Bondarenko
June: A Girl Pedaling – Cuba, by Marilin Guerrero Casas
July: The Last Day – Poland, by Pawel Awdejuk
August: Through my Hands – Venezuela, by Veronica Cordido
September: Amelia’s Euphemism – Spain, by Jonay Quintero Hernández
October: Until Love Do Us Part – Uruguay, by Alejandra Baccino
November: A Journey to the Edge – Lebanon, by Rayan Harake
December: I Used to Smoke – Russia, by Kate Korneeva
Background – Context
Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)
La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)
The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)
L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)
From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)
More work by Pawel Awdejuk
Niepewność – The Road to Freedom – Pawel Awdejuk
Pole-arization – Pawel Awdejuk
Emblems and stories on the international community
Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from around the world
Cover photo: Bialystok, Poland – Evening – Jevgenijs Nikitins (Shutterstock)
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed