There is something to be said for living in an environment where language barriers mean that sense routinely escapes you to some extent. My idea of what there is to be said for it varies, depending on how exactly I fill in the gaps of understanding and how much I like my resulting interpretation. On some days, I will happily assure you that it is inspiring and amusing and surely boosts your creativity and/or repertoire of anecdotes with which to bore potential grandchildren. On other days, I just silently plot my escape.
1. Today. I walk home from a bit of shopping, the sun slowly setting, a park across the street, through the nice part of my neighborhood. An old lady moves toward me, she has trouble walking despite the cane, and from her toothless mouth, she tells me "Niech pani SOUND SOUND SOUND SOUND nie tak czysty!". I detect a certain level of urgency but I have no idea what she is trying to tell me, except that she advises me to do SOUND SOUND and if I don't, something runs the risk of not remaining so clean. Well, I have been monitoring my surroundings for sudden dirt since. Nothing so far. But I still wonder which dangers I am so blissfully unaware of.
2. A while ago. One of the little Zabka supermarkets down he street from my house. They are open until 11pm, as the windows announce in bold letters. It's around 9:30 but the door is locked, and an elderly couple stands in front of it, banging on it. One of the Zabka ladies emerges, unlocks the door, looks left and right, lets the couple and us inside, and locks the door behind us. There is no explanation. As we wait by the cash desk, one guy who was already locked in the cupboard-like shop stuffs his pockets with candy that he clearly has no intention to pay. We leave. They lock the door behind us. Why?!
4. A few months ago. I have a note from the police stuck to my door, asking me to contact them immediately. A coworker calls them for me as I assume correctly that they will not speak English. I am informed that my neighbor has complained about me: I am too silent! He thinks I am just imaginary! Someone only told him that he had someone living next door when in fact I am never there! I met him once, and he did not actually seem too concerned for my well-being but just went right at it again: How I'm never home! How I haven't been around in months! The police had suspected the same because they never found me at home when they checked on me. "She works during the day. She's only home in the evenings", my coworker explains. They remain incredulous. (Truly, what an odd thing for me to do, "work"!). But I do not hear from them again - despite the loud SLAM when my neighbor closed the door on me, after I explained that I could not quite follow his monologue because of my limited Polish.
5. Seems that there are some fans of Düsseldorf right around the corner in my neighborhood! Now, the fact alone that you might like Düsseldorf enough to spray it anywhere seems surreal to me >;). On a house somewhere in central Wroclaw, above a third-floor window, this seems even less likely.
6. Jehova's Witnesses fleeing my door. The fact that I couldn't follow their speech (and that I pretended to know even less Polish than I do) did not lessen their enthusiasm one bit: The young man ventured boldly out into the world of spoken English. He was going to save me! Only that I, unknowingly, still had the power of making them flee in an instant: Upon discovering that I was Not Catholic but in fact Lutheran Protestant, they left within seconds. They were back a week or two later. When I opened the door, the young man just mumbled something about "Oh, I remember you!" and dragged the lady by his side with him, away from the... what? Am I a threat? Never before have I felt like I was perceived as a member of a dangerous cult! Heh.