Have you ever been mistaken for someone, someone famous even? No? Me either. Misiu was once mistaken for a Russian hockey player by a customs agent at the airport. Misiu showed his teeth (all still there) and we moved on.
Polish Journalist Andrzej Borowiak had to do a little more that show his teeth. No, no, it’s nothing like that. He didn’t have to show anything…he just had to prove that he’s Polish. You see, Mr Borowiak was at the Szeremietiewo airport in Moscow on his way to Hong Kong, the same airport where Edward Snowden was reportedly hiding out. Apparently Mr Borowiak bears a resemblance to Mr Snowden. But what about that pesky Polish passport? The authorities decided to test Mr Borowiak’s Polishness? Polishacity? Polakość? Polskość? They decided to check if he’s a real, live Polak.
He was asked to translate some phrases from Polish, something about Polish geography and finally to sing the Polish national anthem (remember it’s “kiedy my żyjemy” not “póki”).
Jeez Louise, I could have passed the test na Polaka. Maybe they should have asked him who the first king of Poland was as the anesthesiologist asked me while administering gas. I replied, “Jakiś Bolesław” and for good measure added that the first president of the USA was George Washington. Not long after that, I was out.
They should have asked him this…
Kto ty jesteś?
— Kto ty jesteś?
— Polak mały.
— Jaki znak twój?
— Orzeł biały.
— Gdzie ty mieszkasz?
— Między swemi.
— W jakim kraju?
— W polskiej ziemi.
— Czem ta ziemia?
— Mą Ojczyzną.
— Czem zdobyta?
— Krwią i blizną.
— Czy ją kochasz?
— Kocham szczerze.
— A w co wierzysz?
— W Polskę wierzę!
— Coś ty dla niej?
— Wdzięczne dziécię.
— Coś jej winien?
— Oddać życie.
Misiu had me convinced (a few years ago) that I would have to recite it in order to get my residence card. He also told me it was “Jaki znak twój? Osioł mały”, but whatever.
Here’s an article describing the situation of Mr Borowiak if you’d like to read more.
In case you didn’t know that you have been neglecting your responsibilities as a Polak…
You may be surprised to learn that I have been asked to prove my Americanism (or maybe my Americanostwość) on two occasions. The most recent was while applying for US passports for my children. It’s not enough that I am American to secure passports for my children. I have to have lived a stated number of years in the US under a certain age. The clerk was having some difficulty understanding what was written on my application and declared that I had not lived a sufficient amount of time in the US. I asked if from birth to my 20’s wasn’t long enough? He agreed that it was and then sent out the big guns. The big guns would be a very nice young man wearing an ill-fitting suit quite possibly in his first job not to mention his first job abroad. I gathered that he was not trained in stealth interrogation techniques because at some point in his “casual” conversation I just blurted out, “Are you checking us?!” I’m sure he’s unaware that he blushed at that moment and our papers were promptly processed and payment was quickly made at an exchange rate that even a mafia boss would be embarrassed to charge, but anyhow it’s all done and dusted. No harm. No foul.
The second occasion was a police officer who questioned my lost, foreign sierota act. Combine that with speaking English only and the police usually let you go. (I add in defense of my character that I have not had any run ins with the law for years) Seeing from my driver’s license that I’m from the great state of Pennsylvania, he demanded to know the capital city of PA which everyone knows is Harrisburg, so fortunately located near the great Hershey Park. The police officer declared that I failed my test na Amerykanka as everybody knows the capital of PA is Philadelphia. Apparently everybody also knows that when you give a police officer cash in the middle of the night, he takes it, walks away, and never returns with a ticket. Who knew?
And now, just for fun…
Go on. Test me. Na Polaka or na Amerykanka. I’m ready.