Friday, November 20, 2015

Hej Lala

I'm a walker. Through some combination of public transportation and huffing it on foot, I get where I'm going. You'd know I'm a walker just by checking out my gear - flat, comfy shoes, courier bag, umbrella, pack of tissues (my nose runs in cold weather). Heels? Those are car shoes. I haven't worn them for years. I'm an experienced pedestrian. I always keep right. I look out for doggie bombs. I look both ways before I cross the street.

As a pedestrian there is something that I really cannot avoid. Doggie bombs? I do my best. Cars? They're bigger, so they always win. No, they're not what I had in mind. It's catcalling, yes, catcalling. It happens to me occasionally here in Poland...still...even at my age. The catcaller is usually in a group of men, often road workers or construction workers, sometimes students. The catcalling consists of anything from a light comment that would be considered a compliment if it weren't shouted at me on the street (hey, you look nice today) all the way to the most vulgar commentary on me, my body, what the catcaller would like to do to me.

I can take a compliment. I have no trouble recognizing the difference between someone chatting me up and someone crossing the line. Years ago a very nice road worker gave me a very polite shout of "good morning" from across the street and told me that he had wanted to ask me out for a coffee for a month. I spoke to him for awhile and thanked him for his invitation, but declined. He said it was a pity. No catcalling there. All in all a nice interaction. Another gentleman invited me for coffee on the street after witnessing my amazing parking skills. I declined. He said it was a pity. No harm, no foul.

The roofers working on my building were catcalling me from the roof and were mortified when I went inside to the top floor where I live, opened the window, and called them out on it. A guy on the tram years ago invited me to his place, but in much more impolite words. Two guys on the bus made oral sex gestures to me. There was the time... Ok, you get the picture.

All of those people were strangers. Never to be seen again. But I have some neighbors that catcall me on a regular basis. I'm not sure if there are two or three of them. They spend their evenings on the balcony having a drink and a smoke. When the weather was better, a catcall from them was guaranteed - some kissy noises, some commentary on your ass, you know, standard. Now that the weather has changed, it's getting harder to catcall. They cannot spend endless hours drinking and smoking on the balcony, and the ladies walking by are all bundled up. Plus, most of the foot traffic on my street is from people who live here. No fresh meat.

A new tactic is needed and has been duly implemented. It goes something like this...

Almost 8 p.m. on a dimly lit street..

Smoking, drinking catcaller from his balcony: Hey Babe!

I don't know why, but this time I stop in my tracks and look up with an inquiring look.

Catcaller: (exhaling a lungful of cigarette smoke, leans over the rail, totally relaxed and in fact looking quite tired) Why don't you come up here and give me a blow job?

Me: Do you propose that to everyone who walks by?

Catcaller: Nope. Just the women.

Me: Any takers?

Catcaller: Not a one.

Me: Well, you're disappointed again because I won't take you up on your offer. 

And the catcaller waves me on with his cigaretted hand, looking down the street for his next victim ;)

The most surprising thing about that interaction for me was not his proposition, nor his calm demeanor. It was the fact that I called him Pan. Why Chris, why?


Me said...

Na pewnym poziomie już nie tak łatwo sprowadzić się do poziomu takiego osobnika. Może nawet nie warto. To się chyba wpisuje w stary już brak porozumienia między kulturą/wychowaniem a jego brakiem.

Tak się zastanawiam nad założeniem własnego bloga. Jedyną przeszkodą (wymówką? ;-)) jest to, że zupełnie nie wiem jak to zrobić i gdzie. Masz może jakieś sugestie?

Stardust said...

I don't understand either why the hell you called POS "pan".
And BTW Poles are afraid of Muslim immigrants? I'm afraid of Poles like this. That's the main reason I never lived in Greenpoint, not even one day.

Tiina Arminen said...

I'm a walker as well! Love to observe people and surroundings.

Chris said...

Me - Starting a blog is easy peasy. Just go to blogger or Wordpress and set everything up. You'll need a name for your blog, a profile for you and your blog, and probably a Facebook page and maybe even an Instagram or Twitter. Next you need some content and you are off! After a few posts you let your blogger friends know and they should help you increase your readership. Let us know when you get started!

Star - I am tougher than I look so bring on the Poles, bring on the immigrants. Whoops, forgot I am the immigrant in this scenario!

Tiiina - Walkers of the world unite!

Me said...

Ugh, nie korzystam z ustrojstw takich jak Facebook, Instagram oraz Twitter i wolałbym, żeby tak pozostało. Czy to znaczy, że blog musi być popularny, żeby go trzymali na serwerach? Ja raczej chciałem czegoś kameralnego (bo i nie mam tak wiele do powiedzenia), jeśli ktoś odwiedzi i skomentuje - to dobrze, jeśli nie - nie szkodzi.

Pamiętasz to?

A to widziałaś?

Chris said...

Yes, I've seen some of those catcalling clips. It's hard out there on the mean streets.

I know you're not a fan of social media, but it's a good way to get attention. Your blog absolutely doesn't have to be popular to be held on the server. I write my blog for me, so I agree with you that if someone reads and comments it's nice and if they don't it's no big deal. That's true, but when clever, funny, intelligent people comment it is better. I learn something from those interactions.

bitowo said...

I wanted to write a comment but i made mistake and i wrote a comment in contant to you. Sorry for that mistake

Iwona A. said...

It's amazing that I never got that here in Scotland, but every time I go to Poland I am catcalled by some obscene street workers. And I'm in my forties, lol! They probably have nothing better to do :-)

Chris said...

Iwona - I know! I wanted to scold that guy and tell him I could be his mother. Dirty bugger!

bitowo - No worries. I got you message and can copy it here. Here bitowo's comment:

"How often do you have situations like that in article ? it was in the city
or in the village ? I know some retards doing it because they suppose
foreigners dont understand our language. Two guys(described in the article)
are a a typical cunts. Ask someone who helps they unlearn this."

So bitowo, the situation described happened in the city, but I have been catcalled in urban and rural situations ;) Those people in no way knew that I was a foreigner before catcalling me as I was simply walking along the street. It's not even a Polish thing, there is just a particular type of person who enjoys such behavior I guess.

Papuga z Ameryki said...

LOL... OMG... You've just reminded me how it was to ignore people on the street. This was something so Polish... USA taught me that everyone, even the homeless deserves an attention. If you like it or not. You might refuse but you should never ignore.

And this is the rule that you have just proved. Polish woman would never talk to that guy from the balcony. She would for sure pretend she didn't hear a thing ;)

jagodka said...

It happens in USA too. If you walk in a town where hardly anyone walks, you hear catcalls from passing cars. I guess maybe they feel "safer" inside the car. Well, to be honest, it was mostly happening to me when I was still in my twenties and early thirthies. But not so long ago I was babysitting my friend's baby and took him for a walk with my teenage daughter. As we were going down the street some "nice" gentelman honked and called out "MILF". My daughter was partly amused, partly mortified. But she said that catcalls happen to her and her friends sometimes, if they walk, not drive. I guess they're just more picky in America ;)

Chris said...

It's definitely not a Polish thing...there's just a particular type of person that thinks catcalling is cool. I'm wondering how effective it is at actually picking up a partner. I think I will continue to speak up. I know we all have the dream that we'll say just the right words and the nefarious catcaller will see the error of his ways, but it's never going to happen unfortunately. I will speak up for me, not to change him.

More picky cat callers in America? Less brave and more lazy is more like it ;)

jagodka said...

By picky I only meant they seem to choose only younger "victims " :P Used to happen to me a lot, happens to my daughter now. I guess typical catcaller doesn't want me as a potential date anymore ;)

Chris said...

Jagodka, come back to Poland. Catcallers are very ambitious and don't discriminate by age ;)

Kasia said...

I spent 6 months in Morocco during college and their catcalling was whistling - but it really did not bother me or scared me.

When I first came to the US we only had one car, and we lived closed to my work, so that I could walk to the office. After several months of walking to the office, I encountered a catcaller - he slowed down in the car and wanted to chat with me. A couple weeks later we bought the second car.

Unfortunately the Polish catcallers are the most obnoxious ones in my opinion - probably because often they are drunk.