Polish People in NYC
There is this sentence I’ve been hearing from Polish people ever since I got to NY (please, don’t get angry, my dear compatriots): “I didn’t come here to meet Polish people”. What’s more, my answer to a question: “Are you dating any Polish guys?”, usually was the exact same one. Where does it come from? When we decide to immigrate to a different country (and I’m not talking only about immigrating to NY), we’re usually looking for a different lifestyle, people with a different mindset, people who are experiencing a lack and longing that’s similar to our own. Many people are able to find it and many aren’t, because their problem happens to be deeper and moving to a different country cannot solve it – but that’s a subject for a different post.
There is this myth about people who decide to leave their own country: “They have no education, they have no idea what they want to do with themselves, they won’t be able to find a job in their own country, so they decide to leave and work as a dishwasher”. I can understand where that comes from: it used to be like that, but it’s not like that anymore. Of course, you’ll meet Polish guys who work the whole week just to get drunk on Friday, sometimes on Saturday too, only to finish their week with a Sunday mass (of course). Those guys really have no bigger aspirations whatsoever. They also don’t make friends with people from different cultures and fiercely cultivate their own, narrow vision of the world we live in. Still, I know they’re out there. But there is also my own truth about Polish guys here and it’s quite the opposite of the stereotype. I don’t mean education in particular, because I don’t think that education says much about a person (I’ve met a lot of educated assholes in my life). Polish people I’ve met here want more and are willing to work for it (we’re known as good workers), they can speak English, have surprising interests and travel a lot. They are also – crucially – open-minded and know that the word “normal” covers a variety of skin colors, cultures, genders and religions.
I think that sentence I talked about at the beginning is a direct result of fear. We’re afraid that Polish guys here are the embodiment of that myth I talked about. I lived in Poland, so I knew we’re not all like that, but I had this fear I wouldn’t be that lucky in NYC. And I know I wasn’t the only one thinking like that: we all face this fear. This is our first reaction, and luckily, more and more often, the myth happens to be a false one. After a while we realize that panic wasn’t necessary. I’ve met many interesting Poles, especially women, over here: two of my closest friends in NYC are Polish. I keep thinking of organizing sort of a gathering for Polish women in NYC, one that would enable us to meet and support each other. I think it’s a good idea, because no matter how fascinating it is to meet people from different cultures, it’s a big relief to have a group of people who understand you on a different level – for example, who will understand that craving you have for that Polish cutlet called “schabowy” or pierogies once in a while.