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How I Survived Socialism: While it was a period of relative freedom in Poland, it was also one of persistent uncertainty and fear. There was always the possibility that the Soviets would invade, and that with each new governmental joyful and triumphant essay help to the people, eventually, a price would have to be paid.
The bill came due on 13 December when martial law was declared by General Wojciech Jaruzelski, who had come to power a month earlier.
I grew up in Poland and came to the U. Since then, I have been trying futilely to explain to my American friends the array of abstruse quirks and habits I acquired during my formative years of living under socialism.
Recently, as I have been listening to speculation about the threat of approaching socialism here on U. So, here it goes, the one and only guide to socialism you will ever need!
This guide is based on the decade between androughly the time between martial law and the Round Table Talks, right before perestroika took hold of the Eastern Bloc and before the Berlin Wall melted down in the warm sun of glasnost.
During that time Poland was bankrupt, with a huge mounting national debt, a failing economy, and worthless currency. It was a time of political unrest, a time of so-called shortages, and the time of my gloriously innocent childhood.
How to feed yourself and your family 1. This is what happened to our stores during the early s. The food was rationed, and as in all just and fair societies, everyone received an equal ration. The rations were distributed in exchange for monthly government coupons, which everyone received at their workplace, along with their paychecks.
Each person received the same exact coupons for four pounds of meat, two pound of sugar, two pounds of flour, and one gallon of vodka per month.
Whatever food was sold in the stores, it was delivered intermittently, twice, sometimes three times per month at undefined and unpredictable times. Whenever the food was delivered, it was aggressively fought for and taken away within minutes by people standing for days in winding lines.
The first infallible approach is to find a few local alcoholics and barter your vodka coupons for their meat coupons.
This was never a miss. The Slavic soul, eternally torn by existential anxieties of meta-proportions, is naturally prone to alcoholism, and our town, no different from any other Polish town, was always full of drunk philosophers and poets.
They hung out in front of the liquor stores, in parks, and in bus stations, delighting themselves with Polish vodka, ethanol, and cheap aftershave, casually quoting Mayakovski and Pushkin in a drunken daze. They were always part of our colorful socialist reality, the sad misfits who refused to play by the rules and be productive builders of our brilliant socialist future.
For that refusal, they were alternately held in awe and reviled by the local townspeople. During that fateful decade of the food coupons, however, they suddenly became revered.
Each drunk was a potential source of four additional pounds of meat and two pounds of flour per month, so the entire town surreptitiously prayed for their health and long life.
The competition for their meat coupons, though, was fierce. A second food-organizing strategy is to fabricate a health concern that would qualify you for additional meat coupons. Anemia or various muscle and bone disorders are always a good idea. If you are lucky and have a friend who is a doctor, he or she might be willing to help you choose a disease that requires an additional consumption of protein.
The third reliable tactic is to bribe local shopgirls to tip you off when food or anything else for that matter is going to be delivered to their shop, so you can be the first one in line. This approach requires dogged practice and perspicacious people skills, as you have to know whom to bribe and how.
In capitalism, there are goods you can buy, and that is why it is corrupt. You can imagine my absolute shock when I arrived in the U.
Under socialism, bribing is an art, as enigmatic and effervescent as any other art out there.
A shopgirl in the grocery store, for example, can be bribed with pantyhose. A shopgirl in the lingerie department can be bribed with milk and eggs for her kids. A shopgirl in the cosmetics department can be bribed with ham or oranges so that she can bribe a shopgirl in the electronics store with a bottle of perfume to tip you off when the laundry machine or radios will show up.
A shopgirl in the pharmacy can be bribed with a pair of American jeans and lipstick. And a shopgirl in a shoe store can be bribed with hemorrhoid cream and aspirin for her father.
In other words, to be able to effectively manage your bribery ring, you need to get to know all of your shopgirls and their current needs. My mother managed her shopgirls with virtuoso PR skills, cruising listlessly through our town from one shopgirl to the next, checking up on them like a trainer checks up on his best brood of horses.
The bribed shopgirl could do two things for you: It made it patently obvious to everyone how well you were connected, elevating you in an instant on our inconspicuously sturdy socialist social ladder.
Yes, because if you succeed at getting a tip from your shopgirl about the next delivery of the desired good, you must now prepare to stand in line.Cldavpkl Public School is the Best CBSE Schools in Panchkula.
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