In the Middle – Poland: The Last Day (Part 2)

by Pawel Awdejuk

I finished my beer and waved for the waiter to bring me another.

“Yes, but you’re a special case. I don’t know a single person in the company who doesn’t like you. Yet think about other managers and employees who have departed in recent months. And think of the reasons they quit or were sacked. It is always connected to him, one way or another.”

She took a sip of tea and held it in her mouth for a moment.

“I don’t think I’m that special. But you said so yourself – it’s similar in other companies.”

“It is,” – I nodded, “but it doesn’t have to be. We are too obedient, too accustomed to the fact that we have some kind of boss, who will tell us what to do – a manager, a parent, a teacher, a priest. That we don’t have to think for ourselves – someone ‘important’ will do it for us.

Have you heard about Milgram’s Experiment?”

“Yes,” she said, frowning to recall the details. “Milgram was an American psychologist, who performed a series of experiments on the influence of authority. Officially, the research he performed was about the influence of pain on the ability to remember. One participant was a ‘student’ trying to remember pairs of words. The other one was a ‘teacher’ dictating the words and sending electric shocks, if the ‘student’ made a mistake. And there was also a laboratory ‘official’ assisting the ‘teacher’. In reality ‘the teacher’ was the actual subject of the experiment. The ‘student’ and the official were actors, each playing a role: the ‘official’s’ job was to motivate the ‘teacher’ to zap the ‘student’ with increasing voltages, and the ‘student’ had to pretend he’s in pain. The machine sending the electric impulses had 30 knobs, starting with 15 V and ending with a deadly 450 V. For every mistake the ‘student’ made, the ‘teacher’ had to switch to another knob – each with higher voltage. If the ‘teacher’ had any scruples, the ‘official’ was there to remind him that it was important to continue the experiment. That’s all he could do. He couldn’t yell at the ‘teacher’, he couldn’t threaten, or hit him. He could just calmly remind the real subject of the experiment that he had to continue. The real question was: how many of the ‘teachers’ would be ready to send the deadly shock under the influence of authority? How many will switch the final knob and ‘kill’ the ‘student’, just because a guy in a lab coat told them it was necessary? Milgram and his colleagues thought it would be about 2-3% of the participant group. The result was a shocking 65%.”

For the whole time she was talking I just sat there stupefied.

“Damn, girl! I’m impressed! You know a lot!” I said finally.

Anka burst out laughing.

“Yeah, I guess I do.”

I took a long sip of beer to clear my throat, then I continued:

“You’re exactly right. Over 60% of the participants in the experiment ‘killed’ a man just because someone ‘important’ told them they should. And you know what? Last year that experiment was repeated in Wrocław. Do you know, what the results were when it was done on modern Poles? Over 80%! Doesn’t that ring a bell? We’re surrounded by ‘important’ people we believe have the right to tell us what we should do. We’re bred this way from infancy. We should listen to our parents and do what they tell us. No discussions, no doubts, or we will be considered ‘naughty’. Then we should listen to our teachers. No free thinking, no independent interpretation, no searching the sources, just stick with the program and memorize ‘facts’. Or you won’t get a promotion. And then we find a job and are expected to blindly listen to our bosses and believe they are always right. No matter how stupid, immoral or plain wrong their decisions are, we have to accept them.”

(…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

Credits

Cover photo: Wroclaw, Poland – Olawska street – Lidia Muhamadeeva (Shutterstock)

Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

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