Working While Ukrainian

On my way back home in the Warsaw Central Railroad Station I went into a convenience store to buy a sandwich and coke for the train only to find some lady (mid to late 50s maybe early 60s) having a full blown public meltdown. She was standing to the side of the line which was made up of seven or eight people and ranting in a demented fashion. Eventually it transpired that she was mortally offended that the woman behind the counter was Ukrainian – that was it, there was no question of any of the usual reasons for customer anger, just she wanted to buy a hot dog and felt insulted that a Ukrainian would serve it to her.

The other people in line were having none of it and telling her off in very clear terms – the word wstyd (shame) was used a lot (it’s a lot worse in Polish than ‘shame’ is in English). I said nothing because a crowd of upset Poles does not need my pathetic support to make its displeasure known. Soon enough a couple of security guards showed up and made her leave the store and she continued outside in the hallway looking for hapless bystanders to harangue and another customer leaving the store told her to get lost or she’d call the guards again to have thrown out of the station entirely and she finally moved on.

Later, after someone told me they’d heard of similar incidents I got to thinking that some of what the crazy lady was saying sounded like talking points and the whole thing seemed a tiny bit… unnatural, as if staged. I did a little googling to see if some political group was organizing some kind of campaign against Ukrainian employees but haven’t come up with anything yet.

Oddly, I later saw her on the same train I was in looking pretty normal. Had I not seen her in the store I’d have never known how disturbed she was.

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