Sunday, August 26, 2012


Angel in Poland ; No blame is placed on the station or people we met but on our own lack of research and foresight and preparation.
This is how it looked in 1945. It looked similar 1991 In 1991 My husband and I were in Poland on business. Since it was our first time abroad, we decided to take a trip to Germany and Austria. We had rented a car in Lodz and had toured and worked around Poland and planned to drive it to Poznan to a big old train depot and take a train late at night which would take us to Berlin When we discussed this with our car rental agent, Jerzy (pronounced Yerzy),he questioned us and looked at our tickets. He explained “this is not good for you” he said it over and over again in his Polish accent. He was very concerned. He finally said. “I will take you there.”
 It was 126 miles (over 2 hours one way) to Poznan and we couldn't believe that he would do this. Even at no extra charge. He met us in the evening in Lodz with an employee to help and drove about half way and delivered our rental car there with the employee and then we got in the car with Jerzy and he drove the rest of the the long distance to Poznan.
                It was about midnight when we were to board our train. As we approached the station with Jerzy, we could see that on the outside and inside were many young soldiers who were all quite inebriated. We found no one who spoke English and without Jerzy we would have been in deep trouble.I became very frightened. Jerzy helped us obtain our tickets and then led us out through the menagerie of train cars in the dark to find our train. The train we were to be on had been moved to another track and we had a hard time finding it.. It was dark, poorly lit, dirty and scary. When we got there Jerzy handed the attendant our tickets and took us on the train car and found our berth then asked "do you have any Zlotych" (Polish money)? We did not. He then handed us a large sum of money for which he would not take payment. We found later that we really needed to have that money in order to pay fees and buy food and other needed items on the long train ride.
               We were ushered into a little semi private berth where there were two benches facing each other. They were very old but upholstered in a plush burgundy colored upholstery fabric on the straight stiff cushions. I later learned that it was very dirty and wherever you touched it the dark sooty dust would rub off. There was a quiet woman and boy and a man also seated in the car across from us. They didn't look at us or speak to us. They departed early on in the journey and we were then alone This train stopped in every town it passed and they were about 7 miles apart. When it would stop it would screech and rock like the engineer had slammed on the brakes. Then a very stiff acting soldier would come in looking and sounding very much like a world war I movie and gruffly and abruptly shout something in languages we did not understand. We would show our passports and tickets and then they would leave.
               There was a scruffy, sloppy looking man staggered in as drunk as could be and demanded something we couldn't understand about three times. Finally my husband said. "We only speak English". He then shouted “Beer !”. We shrugged and indicated we had none so he left. The train stopped about every twenty to thirty minutes all night long. I was totally traumatized by the whole experience.
              Today, a train ride from Poznan to Berlin is a little over 3 hours. It must have taken us almost twice that long with all the stops but finally morning came and we were in Berlin tired, hungry and dirty but glad to be alive. The Berlin wall had just fallen two years prior and there was freedom in the air. We shall ever cherish the kindness of a man in Lodz Poland who ran a car rental business. He chose to be our guardian angel. He guided us, taught us and even paid the way. His actions were completely Christlike and we are still grateful over 20 years later. From that time on, every time we traveled to Poland, Jerzy would meet us at the airport and drive us to our hotel and leave a rental car with us. Often when I reach out a hand to help someone I am inspired by the memory of this unselfish charitable deed we received from a stranger, who became a beloved friend, in a far country.

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful story. The bright spot in a scary experience.