Rich Mazur 7 | 582 18 May 2018 #1In 1966, fifty two years ago, with a diploma from Polibuda in my bag, I was waving good-bye to my parents as the train I was on started rolling west toward a more civilized world.This spring I broke my word never to go back, so on Thursday, April 26, I was again in Warsaw. Three days later, I was on my way home to Chicago.What I learned very quickly about Poland made me leave sooner than I planned and will keep me from coming back forever.Graffiti: If I want to see ugly buildings defaced by morons for no good reason I don't have to spend ten hours on a plane that would be considered a cruel and unusual punishment in a typical American prison. I have plenty of that near me where the black and Latino gangs congregate. To make matters worse, it seems that the average guy in Warsaw got numb to this form of vandalism. "It's just kids" or "They will do it again if we paint it over". This makes it a Polish mental disorder - tolerating theft by vandalism and being blasé about it.Restrooms: Defecating and urinating are basic to life. In Poland, those functions are clearly optional and subject to a fee. My question, "What do I do if I don't have money with me?" was met with that stupid, smirkey smile that said "then you are f**ked". One local genius asked: thin or thick?Emergency medical care: This was the last nail. Two days after arrival, Saturday evening, I wasn't feeling well so I stopped at a clinic. The first thing I hear is that it will be 120 zloty, payable up front. No, we don't take credit cards. What??? No, cash only. At that moment, I had 400 bucks on me so I figured I am good to go. Nope. Polish money only. Where is the nearest bank? I don't know but they are all closed now. So, what do I do? You can try the hospital down the street.The hospital down the street was worse. The entrance looked like a place where you bring your old car to junk it. To find out how I would be treated in an emergency situation, I asked this: If somebody dropped me off here, bleeding and with 15 minutes left before my imminent death, with no documents or money on me because I left my hotel to go jogging, would I be treated to save my life? We would need cash payment up front. But I do have enough American insurance to cover me for up to 150,000 dollars, toll-free numbers to get a guarantee of payment, and two credit cards good for 20 grand. Sorry, these are our rules. Of course, the moron I was talking to was unable to say how much money would be enough to be admitted. That point was moot anyway because if I had any cash on me, it would be stolen by the "Good Samaritan", right along with my watch and shoes. She seemed happy to just say "no", with no attempt to suggest anything else. Not even a "let me check with Mr. Big".At this point, the only thing I was able to say while avoiding the f word is that my access to a medical facility in the middle of Africa would be no worse. Sorry, but those are the rules. Got it.Next day was Sunday. At 10, I was at the Chopin airport buying a return ticket. Good bye, Poland. Never again.Last summer in June I went to a local post office to renew my American passport. Three weeks and 35 bucks later, it was in my hands. The form I had to fill out was four-page long.Also in June, for the reasons that are more nostalgic than based on a necessity, I decided to renew my Polish passport. It is May now and I still don't have it. The difference today is that I don't care anymore.BTW, the form I had to fill out to establish that I am a Polish citizen was 12-page long and covered every member of my family including both sets of my grandparents. My birth certificate, passport, and a very verifiable fact that I never renounced my Polish citizenship was clearly not sufficient for the Polish blockheads to decide that I still am.Also, the Polish Consulate in Chicago makes a typical American post office look like a lobby of a five-star hotel. As an extra challenge, it is located to make getting there as inconvenient and expensive as humanly possible. And then there are those bullet-proof windows to make the conversations hard and unfriendly, if you can hear the clerk on the other side.