This past weekend I wanted to go on a small day-trip. Since Gdańsk is close to Lębork I thought this would be a good destination for me. It turns out it was indeed a good place to visit, because I had a lovely day there. I took the morning train to Gdańsk, saw some sights, walked around for a bit, and then I went to the Museum of the Second World War. I was not prepared for the immenseness of this massive museum. I had arrived at the museum at around 1300 and I was there until 1930. Even with all of this time there I do not feel like I saw everything that there is to see in the museum. The scale of the museum was truly impressive and I guess next time I go there I will simply need to plan to spend the entire day there instead of just most of the day!
I had a train at 2015 and it was via the SKM train company. I am not sure if I missed the train or what happened, but when I arrived at the train station I saw only trains going to Wejerhowo. I figured Wejerhowow was at least in the general direction that I needed to go in order to return to Lębork, so I hopped onto the train. While in Wejerhowo I had a bit of a problem. This problem was that I had to speak with the Cashier at the ticket office to try and buy another ticket. Now, my Polish is o.k. in these types of situations, but there was an unforeseen dilemma. The problem was that I wanted to buy a ticket for a train, that apparently did not exist. Inside the train station I saw the schedule of trains. On this schedule it was written that I could buy a train ticket for a train that would go through Lębork, on its way to Słupsk. Now, I asked for this train ticket very nicely. However, the cashier firmly told me that this train did not exist and that I would have to wait one hour for a different train. I understood this, but my problem was that what the cashier was saying, was not the same as what was on the train schedule for the day. I told this to her, and she told me again, rather firmly, that I must look at the dates for the train schedule. I did look at the dates, and I was absolutely certain that the schedule was good until the date of December 8th. The date was the 1st of December. Now, my Polish is o.k., but certainly not at the level where I could kindly point out to the cashier that the schedule was not correct and that there was some sort of mistake between what she was saying and what was on the schedule. So, our conversation ended with me buying a ticket for the train she recommended after the fact that she told me I could either buy the ticket or leave her alone and stop bothering her.
I felt better after our discussion because while waiting for the next train to Lębork I saw three other people be confused by the schedule. So, I was happy that it was not simply me who had the problem, and that the schedule posted for the trains was indeed incorrect. While waiting for the train my mind did wander to the problem that many Americans face while interacting with the ticket booth workers across Poland. Unfortunately, in our weak American minds we are too used to the mind-set of the customer always being first. When we go to a restaurant, order food, or buy tickets for something we expect this rule to govern our interactions. This meaning that most Americans expect to be treated nicely and be 'met with a smile'. So, I think that most Americans would have a shock after dealing with the train ticket booth workers here.
I remember a time when I had an American co-worker in Warsaw who was shocked that the ticket booth workers did not speak English, and that they had the audacity to be mad at her for not knowing Polish. She came away from her interaction very angry and frustrated and I had to explain to her that our mind-set of customer service is certainly not the same across all the world. Fortunately, I am used to interacting with the PKP ticket booth workers by now, so I did not take my experience personally. Instead of complaining about how things are different, I instead see a unique opportunity to practice my Polish and see how I can manage. Although I did not have the best time in Wejerhowo I did come away with one positive. Despite having a not so nice interaction with the PKP worker I was in fact right, and that is a small victory that I usually don't have when trying to speak in Polish.
Born and raised in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan David was raised by his parents with his two sisters and brother.