Can you be friends with someone who thinks you're simple? That's what I'm asking myself today.
Conversation with a teacher friend, the short version:
Friend: You're wrong, but I forgive you because you're not Polish. Chriiiisss, you couldn't possibly understand the situation. You know nothing of European history, recent politics, the Polish education system, the situation for real people in Poland.
Me: Kochana, I studied history.
Friend: But in America. It doesn't count. (Gee, thanks my friend.)
Me: Yes, yes. On my exams I only wrote "America good. Rest of world bad." And I got an A+. Anyhow, I read a lot and not only from sources sympathetic to my opinions.
Friend: But you read English papers. You cannot get the whole picture that way.
Me: I read the Polish papers too, dear friend.
Friend: But as an American you cannot understand the Polish reality of people who work and live in Poland. People who have to find a job, a place to live, find a place in the hospital, pay a mortgage.
Me: Absolutely, since I came to Poland 16 years ago, I have never had a job interview, never been hired or fired from a job. My home was given to me by angels. Mortgage? What's that? Hospitals welcome me with open arms, especially that time I almost gave birth in the waiting room because the hospital refused to admit me.
Friend: But you can't imagine how it is to be a public school teacher here. The abuse we have to take, the peanuts we earn.
Me: As a former school teacher I assure you, I understand your struggles.
Friend: But you taught in a nice school in America. I work over 40 hours in two different schools.
Me: I worked 50 hours in one school. Nice? Our metal detectors were certainly top-of-the line.
Friend: Ok, but at least you got paid a reasonable salary.
Me: I earned less than the per hour pay of a fast food cashier.
Friend: Well, in Polish schools it's just worse.
Me: I worked in high school in Poland and while it wasn't all fun and games, nobody got shot.
Friend: Please. You're exaggerating. You didn't get shot at school in America.
Me: Not me. One of the kids. That's why I'm not a public school teacher anymore, that and the money.
Friend: Well, anyhow. You're not fully immersed in Polish culture, so you've been misled by the leftist media. If you really understood life in Poland, your (political) opinions would be different.
Me: Well, at least you didn't say it's because I'm a cycling atheist.
I know plenty of foreigners who live in Poland and don't give a rat's ass about Polish politics. They don't know who the President is, are unaware that there's also a Prime Minister, and probably won't take an interest as long as they live in Poland...unless the exchange rate continues its plunge right into the toilet.
But someone who knows me, has known me for years? I thought they'd put me in a different category than the random expat passers through. I know that I wasn't born in Poland, and I'm not Polish, but jasna cholera I take an interest in the country I call home. Yes, I have a different perspective. I'm an immigrant after all. I'm not asking her to agree with me. I'm only asking for respect of my intelligence as an adult member of society.
My friend? Please ask her what's wrong with Obama, why Americans are overweight, or who will be the next US President. She's an expert.