(3 construction workers)
Why did they arrive?
It’s pure coincidence, meeting some people and going abroad. For example, one of my relatives left, he pulled in the next one and then one by one, each pulls in the next one.
Well, I would disagree with you because I am not here by coincidence. My business activity resulted in debt, and I always used to say “Poland for Poles, I will not leave anywhere”. My partner, she used to go to Germany for strawberries. And once I agreed to these strawberries. And the life in the group was cool, discos and I liked it, a lot of beautiful girls. Very cool, I recall the first departure as very cool.
My friend had family here and because of them, we came here, 11 years ago, here to Sweden, to a women called Kama. We worked here twice a year. Working here suited us very well, until she fetched some thugs that were running from the polish law, so to say, and this is how it started spoiling and falling into pieces. On the construction site they already started fighting, various things happened… it wasn’t that nice. That was the reason for our resignation, but already we had some contacts with Poles that live in Sweden. And we started working at Mietek’s, where we pulled in one brother, then I pulled in a friend, and then it went well. When one have contacts he does not have to rely on one particular person. If only there was no language barrier, it would be totally great. And this is how I am here, it was no coincidence for sure.
At Mietek’s it was quite ok, but every time I went for two months he paid me for one month only. I came for 2 moths again, and he paid me only for one month. I said to him: “man, I will be working for you for 2 months and you will pay me for one month? No.” and I resigned. It took me one year to get the money back. Of course because of a threat, otherwise, it wouldn’t happen.
Poles are a hardworking nation. You go abroad, and well you have money, but you have to work a lot to earn this money. And a question is whether or not someone will pay you the money. You can work for instance for 2 months and not get a bank transfer, and what will you do?
It wasn’t easy because one works, but still there were great challenges, because we, the Poles, we work here as third or fourth hand, which means we just get the money as the last. Well, it was a few years ago, now it’s different, so maybe it will not be worse.
For example, when I was working here for the first time it was very hard for me because for example for setting the door, they used mineral wool to seal up, and in Poland, we used sealing foam, that you couldn’t use in here. You had to familiarize yourself with all the materials and everything. Simply they have their own style and we have our style.
Sweden is a very quiet, calm country, simply too calm to live here and settle up. Going to Ikea on Sunday I would rather see ducks but I wouldn’t see the people. People sit at home here a lot. In Stockholm or Göteborg, in bigger cities, maybe it’s different there, but in such a small town, nothing’s happening there.
Swedes are very friendly. Even when you do something wrong they are glad.
Men, they all sit in front of computers. Many people sit in front of computers all day long. For me it’s quite monotonous because I also have a computer, I can sit, but not too long, cause I get bored.
My observation: I think that the Swedes stay healthy and they exercise more, they run more, they take care of themselves in everyday life, they ride bikes. In Poland, this trend has only appeared in bigger cities. I think in Sweden it’s much more rooted. And I find it nice that they make effort to stay healthy. And it’s not only the youth. Older women, barely, barely she pulled the legs, and she run in a park in Helsingborg. I watched her and say: “this woman will yet have a heart attack”. And she runs, she flies, she chugs, chugs and runs.
I was surprised the most that they don’t cover their windows with curtains as we do in Poland. Maybe they are not that shy.
It is very hard to get used to the traffic regulations. They drive here normally as it maybe should look like. When it’s 50 maximum it’s 50. When it’s 60 it’s 60. Twice the police have already caught us. My brother was going 100 km/h and there was a limitation to 80. They were driving with the siren going, we thought they were going somewhere else. They cut us off and explained to us, so my brother said “no Svenska”, and he [the policeman] showed that the limit is 80 km/h and we were going 100 km/h. But it all ended well. The police is very tolerant. And as they know Polish – some of them – you have to watch your words.
Equal rights in Sweden
Here between men and women, there is equality. So for example wife goes to work and men stays with a kid, it is a little weird for me. And he watches after kids, changes their clothes, all the stuff. And a woman goes to work. As if it was completely the opposite.
I have even seen, maybe you will not believe me, but I’ve seen women setting the curbs, paving slabs. They drive trucks. We are constructing the basement and a woman operates concrete mixer. I have seen a woman driving a lorry, and it was not once only, I saw several dozens of them. While we were working next to the wholesales I saw women every now and then driving a truck, big one not a small, an 18-wheeler. And she unloads the trucks on the construction site, and she’s at the controls of the train. Polish women do not work here at construction sites, but Swedish women I met few times. I personally have seen women spackling walls, distilling, painting. A painter simply. And a woman. In Poland, one could maybe find few, but they are exceptions.
It is not the same here as we have in Poland that a kid stays with the mother. For instance, one week father is taking care and the second week it’s mother’s turn. And every week they change, but the kid goes to the same school. And this is how it works. In one case it was like that, that the father stayed and the mother left the family and she was paying alimony. In Poland it is so rare, that mother would pay alimony for the kid.
If I had good work in Poland I would stay there. But one have already get used to. And at the beginning, it’s clear that one would care more for the money, but with time passing, it would be better to have a good job, because one have to work a lot. I would like to work gently in Poland. This is my dream.
I have terrible departure stress. Horrible. I have no energy. Just as I start driving, I drive away like 10 km, just then I feel released. And before that I can’t do anything at all. I do not prepare clothes, totally, totally, totally nothing. My partner prepares all for me. Because otherwise, I would take nothing with me. I get so nervous.
While I was leaving for the first time they have to organize me a visa through job center and I had to have a passport. It was not that legal as it is now, therefore you always had to gain the knowledge how to leave legally. And now nothing limits us.
The biggest problem was the storm at the Baltic Sea. It was horribly rocking. It was quite an experience, right? And at the bar, all the bottles were falling down. Later on, one person told me that it was nothing comparing to the one when they fired the captain just after he arrived in the harbour, because he shipped out when it was something like really much in Beaufort scale. People were praying, it was all closed, the helicopters were circling above and when the ship reached Świnoujście then the captain got fired. And one can talk on the ferry with people, there you can get some knowledge. You can get much information of the ferry. Maybe it’s out of topic but there you have a casino, discos… One guy that was working in Norway he was driving down for his daughter party. And you know, happy, earned the money – the bartender told me. And the guy started playing Black Jack. He won his half year’s salary – the same amount he was bringing back to his family. He won. Totally happy, right? He went back to his cabin, and something brought him back and he went on playing. He lost what he have won, he lost his money. He didn’t have money to come back home. This kind of scenes one can see on ferries. I see many people play roulette, all this, and then they regret: why did I play? When we were working at Mietek’s one was playing in the casino, and even I lend him money for the travel because he didn’t have money to come back home. All his salary he lost in the casino.
The Swedes go by ferry for Friday and Saturday. Whole class buys a cabin and they go for a party. They do not disembark, they go back home. They simply have a party. And it’s cheaper for them because drinks are cheaper than in Sweden. And here you have this alcohol rigor – you will not buy vodka in a shop, or on Sunday. And on the ferry they can party for little money.
Once it happened to me on a ferry, they do a training, launching of the lifeboats. In case that the ferry has some problems. They have from time to time not only to preserve but launch them on the open sea. So it happened to me once throughout all these years that it was this kind of rescue operation, well a training. If something really happened I don’t know if they would manage to find themselves in the situation. Well, if there would be an alarm on the open sea, there would be panic and it would be very difficult to…
At the beginnings there were more performances, there was a DJ, who played something, now it passes away. Everyone is tired, wants only to reach family. Of course, in the summer, a group that went only for a season, for 6 weeks, and they come back so then they are cheered, because they are in a group. Also going by bus – because one would go not only by car – one could meet people at a bus, so then it would be also completely different.
Now we live 3 of us together. Before we lived – depending on how much work it was – it was 10, it could be 12, it could be 4 when there was not much work. At Mietek’s it was around 20 people in one building. But it was not as you sometimes hear that it’s 14 people in one room, you can imagine what happens. Sometimes 4 were sleeping and already it was bad because one did not wash his socks, other one something else, and when it’s 14 people it is uncontrollable, it unimaginable what can happen there. But this is how some people live here.
The biggest problem was when you didn’t have your own goods. To get used to their bread. It is so soft, more biscuit, like toast bread.
The food we have from Poland, the bread we have from Poland. We calculate that we buy 20 loaves of bread. But I will tell you that a few years ago we would buy 100 loaves of bread. I would place an order in bakery. Once I phoned a baker and he answered that everything would be prepared for the morning so that I could come in the afternoon. In the afternoon I went to get the bread, and he said to me that he hadn’t had it because he thought that I was joking. I had to leave the same day and had no bread.
Usually, everything we have is ours: meat we have from Poland, we pack it so that it would be sufficient, sometimes it is not – as the stay extends – then we buy here. Because we are not familiar with the products here, for example, pates or once I bought herrings. Herrings here are made with cinnamon, spices, you cannot swallow it. Once we bought it, because it was 5 crowns per can, so we ended up rinsing it in water for a week. You couldn’t eliminate that. It was almost swimming, almost rifting away, but you couldn’t eat it. They have their cuisine, and simply we have ours, in our place cinnamon you can add to rice, not to herrings. They eat various things sweetened.
East or West, home’s the best. There’s no place like home.
My sentence: last year. 11 years I repeat that.