The Poles living in Ireland are generally divided into two groups: cool and uncool. The cool Poles are usually nice and easy to get along, since they don’t complain. Regardless of their state of employment, they don’t pollute the lives of everyone around them. They live their lives and don’t try to prove their coolness to everyone at every opportunity. The cool Poles have less insecurities, which are so eagerly discussed by the uncool ones. Insecurity is our national welfare, an export product truly made in Poland. They seem to go hand in hand, the insecurities and the desire of expression and self-presentation. As if insecurity and decerebration were the driving power behind human existence. The uncool Poles want to take up as much space as possible, piss on every tree and fart in every room, store, etc. They need to be noticed.
The uncool Pole doesn’t like to be unnoticed, so he makes a lot of noise. In critical situations, the cool Pole doesn’t tend to escalate the conflict, while the uncool Pole acts exactly opposite: a fight is the essence of his existence. A cool Pole is eager to share his knowledge, and doesn’t say something stupid when he doesn’t know something. The uncool Pole’s knowledge is very limited, obtained in large part from TV. But most of all, to the uncool Pole, a dispute is not a mental exercise, a pleasure from piling up syllogisms
or absurdities, but continuous and invariable substantiation of his own Right. The Right composes the being of the uncool Pole. Maybe this is why the Polish tribe yielded so few philosophers? Poles are always divided into those who are right and those who are wrong. Fuck! Is breakfast better than dinner? Who is Right? What’s a better climate to live in, hot or cold? Who is Right? What’s better, coffee or tea? Who is Right? And it goes on and on.
The cool Pole distinguishes himself from the uncool Pole with his level of resistance to boorishness. The first is resistant, the second is resistant to the awareness of being a boor. In his mind, he’s cool. Furthermore, the less he cares about others, the more respect he demands for himself. He’s hard-headed and crude. He is oblivious to the loud rustle of straw coming from his shoes. It guarantees that he is able to make a scene and pigsty at the store, office or bus stop. Then, the cool Poles have to take care of the mess and explain to the world that Poland is really not dominated by scum.
Like Poles, the Irish are also divided into cool and uncool. The cool ones have the custom of thanking and apologising for pretty much everything; they say ‘good man’, when you finish the most insignificant job; they also smile often. The cool Irishmen will greet you with a smile when you walk into a pub. The salesgirls don’t grumble, but assist. When a cool Irishman encounters a Pole, say in a pub, he asks about the work of Kieślowski. Besides the “Three Colours” triptych, the smartest ones know of the “Decalogue”. They know some of our actors (but not the TV ones). Polish history is very popular, the cool Irishmen are eager to boast of this knowledge. The number of Poles with similar knowledge of Irish history is much smaller. I also don’t know how many Irish cinema productions and actors we would be able to list off the top of our heads. The Irish are likely more interested in the world, in contrast to the Poles, who are more interested in just how much the world is interested in them.
Then there are the uncool Irish. They don’t greet foreigners with a smile. They pretty much don’t greet them at all. They bluntly ask “Why did you come here?” They go on and on how the European Union caused high gainful emigration, reducing the ethnic purity of Ireland. When they see emigrants, they scoff and tell them to go back home. You don’t even have to be obvious. They can smell an emigrant from a mile away. The uncool Irishman will not provide you with proper help in an office, or any at all, hiding behind the language barrier. He may send you from window to window, from manager to manager, for something he would do right away for an Irishman. The uncool Irish are terribly malicious and stubborn. The problem with them is that when they tell you they like you, they mean that they tolerate you. Those who don’t say it, show their dislike for foreigners with exceptional clarity. The Poles, who tend to profess their love at once to everyone they meet, find this somewhat uncomfortable.
Both Poles and the Irish can be cool and uncool. We all have a lot of work to do. I asked one cabbie what exactly the problem is in the Polish – Irish relation. In his opinion, the Irish are befuddled by the Saturday home-drinking binges of Poles with Poles, as well as that supposed “Uhlan’s imagination”, coming out of every cavity of our bodies when we drink. “Why don’t you go to pubs, to people?” he asked. What was I supposed to tell him? Greed, the inability to communicate? Or maybe that we just like to rot in our own little hell? I didn’t give him a straight answer. How was I supposed to explain that Poles are a weird nation, full of conflicts. I simply assured him that I attend pubs, and proceeded to get out at one.