“Just keep rubbing it in, you jerk,” replied Ania, with an ironic smile.
“Gladly!” – I laughed. “One of the main reasons I quit is that the Company is symptomatic of everything I’m talking about. There’s no honor in the place. No desire to do the best job possible. The clients are lied to on a regular basis. These aren’t just occasional incidents – it’s a standard. We lie in reports, during teleconferences, in root cause analysis after quality complaints. Falsehood is woven into the whole process – starting with false and unachievable promises made at the start of the project, continuing in fictional actions at particular steps and ending with fake quality control and complaint handling at the end. Top that with management based on politics, manipulation, backstabbing and micromanagement and you have a perfect picture of the company. Even the international standards are phony. The firm prides itself on being compliant with three different ISO standards? What’s the point of being compliant if we’re the ones who pay the auditors? Of course, they will give us a certificate every year – they don’t want to lose a client. And the sad part is, the company isn’t an exception. These are very common business practices – and it’s a small-scale model of our country’s government and politics in general.
No honesty, no clear rules, no honor.”
“Well, it doesn’t look that bad from my point of view, but I can see why you feel this way,” said Anka, swirling tea in her cup. By that time it had probably become totally cold.
“And finally we come to the third part of our national slogan, our ‘beloved’ Homeland,” – I barked, with an ironic emphasis. “Well, where is the love for our country? Poland has become a hive of xenophobia and nationalism. We fear the Germans, Russians, Jews, Muslims. We won’t let people from war-torn countries come to us because ‘maybe’ they’re terrorists. Is this really what ‘patriotism’ should mean? Being aggressive towards other countries? We show our ‘love’ by holding on to past resentment. We’re not able to forgive and forget. We stick to what Russia did to us, what Germany did to us, how Great Britain and France didn’t help us.
And we stick even harder to old myths of a Great Poland from the sixteenth or seventeenth century. Dusty romantic tales of how our country was the Bulwark of Christianity, the Christ of Nations – a martyr suffering for others. Or the belief that Polish noblemen came from the Sarmats, who – even if it was true, which it wasn’t – for some unknown reason were so cool, we should be proud of it. The model modern Polish patriot is a person full of hate and fear of other nations and beliefs with a head stuck in old myths.
And our politicians do nothing to change it. On the contrary, they fuel these resentments and wishful thinking. They throw the words ‘homeland, independence, freedom’ around to convince us to vote for them, but their later actions show they actually don’t give a damn about the Homeland they represent. They don’t want freedom, they want control. They don’t want a unified society, they want to divide and conquer for their own political gain. The party leaders don’t look for understanding. They sic their voters on each other. They ignore or fight their opposition instead of listening to criticism and searching for solutions.
Even on the most basic level of taking care of our country we fail – we throw the trash into forests and burn all our toxic junk in our furnace, just to save on wood, coal and waste bills. We cut our woods and poison our cities with smoke. What kind of love for the country is that?
‘God, Honor, Homeland’ has no meaning anymore – if it ever had. It has been replaced by ‘Church, Contract, Party’. And priests, businessman and politicians lead us, hand in hand, towards a catastrophe – like the blind men in Peter Breugel’s painting.”
Anka sat in silence for a long time, just looking at me and playing with her hair. A little smile was lingering in the corner of her lips and I could see a mischievous spark in her eyes. Finally, she sat closer, looked me straight in the eye and said:
“You know what? You could make a decent politician yourself. You certainly have a talent for long, convoluted speeches, my friend. Maybe this is the road you should take?”
“No freaking way!” – I objected instantly. “In my opinion, politics is the least honorable of legal professions. Even if someone starts playing this game with honest intentions, they soon sink in the swamp of intrigue, collusion, lies and shadow play. I would have to be a total głupek to willingly walk into that den of lions.”
“Ok, tough guy,” she said, winking at me. “So now you’re totally free. No corporation’s leash on your neck. No rules, no gods, no masters. What will you do with that freedom?”
“Whatever I want!” I shouted with a wide smile on my face. “That’s the best part. I don’t have to stick to the management’s ‘visions’. I don’t need to ask for permission. I can have as much vacation as I want, provided I have enough money to live on. As the old Polish song says: ‘Niech żyje wolność, wolność i swoboda!’1
I think, first and foremost, I’ll be a translator. I have some experience in this field and I like it. But I’ve also always wanted to be a writer. Who knows, maybe I’ll even write a story about the current situation in Podlasie? I like to travel, so I could also be a tour guide. Or even a musician. The possibilities are almost endless!
But whatever I choose, I’m done with office politics. This is my last day as an office worker. And tomorrow is the first day of the rest of my life.
Time to do things my way…”
1. Long live freedom, freedom and liberty!
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: Warsaw, Poland – Through a large square – andrzej bochenski (Shutterstock)
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed