I bought a Day-Glo running vest to command the respect I deserve

Please refer to my dispatch from Monday before reading the following.

I had a few hours to kill before my flight back to the United States, so I decided to do a little shopping in Warsaw's tony Wilanów district. I found a nice store that sold fine men's clothing. The proprietor was a hirsute gnome who introduced himself as Piotr. His girth was reminiscent of a sea lion, and his receding hairline was shadowed by a thick bramble of unkempt hair that encircled his balding pate like a thicket. He had some sort of freakishly large growth on the side of his head.

Piotr was very friendly and he took a keen interest in my life story. He asked me where I was from, and I told him I was from the United States. He said, "Is that so?" Piotr then launched into a diatribe about the United States, which he did not seem to view with any kind of reverence. I told him that I agreed that the United States had its fair share of problems, but Poland did, too, and in some ways worse problems than the United States.

He asked me what part of the United States I lived in.

"Los Angeles."

Piotr's eyes bulged and he dropped his jaw and his face turned the color of a tomato. He said, "I lived in Los Angeles for two years, and I had a horrible experience there."

"What happened?"

"I was living in an apartment in Culver City, and one day I saw a man in the hallway who was opening his mail slot. I noticed that he had a lot of junk mail in his box.

"I said to him, 'Junk mail is an example of everything wrong about America.'

"He said, 'I love junk mail.'

"I said, 'My friend, do you understand what "junk" means?'

"He said to me, 'I love it so much, I'm going to frame it.'

"I said to him, 'You are very stupid.'

"He then asked me, 'Where the hell are you from?'

"I said, 'I am from Poland.'

"He said, 'Maybe you could tell me where in Poland it is written that junk mail is not a thing to be loved?'

"I said to him, 'It is not written anywhere in Poland, but if you are so stupid that you love junk mail enough to frame it then perhaps it does need to be written down.'

"He got really angry, and he went to the manager of the apartment building and said, 'There is a Polish man in your building who is very rude to me.'

"The manager called me into his office and said, 'Piotr, you will have to leave this apartment. That man is a very important person in Los Angeles. He owns a company that has many thousands of employees. You must apologize to him, or you will be evicted from the building.'

"I told the manager that if I was forced to leave the building, I would sue him for wrongful eviction.

"The manager said, 'If you sue me, you will not get a dime. Your legal fees will eat up any money you might get from me.'

"I had been in America for two years and I was going to be evicted because of a stupid argument over junk mail. I packed my bags, took a taxi to LAX, and never returned to Los Angeles."

"Now I understand," I said to Piotr.

After examining his inventory, I selected a Day-Glo running vest. "This is the perfect item of clothing to attract attention on my long flight home," I told Piotr. "The flight crew will give me the respect that I deserve for wearing such a garment. They will treat me like a viceroy with a taste for the avant-garde."

Piotr rang up the vest and then rang up an additional charge for something he called a "Wi-Fi hot spot." I protested, saying I didn't use his internet service in the store. Piotr became enraged and said, "I don't know who you are to lecture me on what I need to do, but you need to get out of my store."

We didn't part on good terms and I was so upset I went across the street and had a cup of coffee at a café to gather my wits. I became aware that I was being watched while I was sitting at my table. I saw a man who was very short and very fat. He was wearing a perfectly tailored, expensive suit. He sat down at a table opposite me, and just stared at me for a few minutes. I stared back at him.

He smiled at me and said, "I know who you are and I know why you are in Poland."

"You do?"

"I must tell you this. I am the man Piotr told you about."


"I am the man who loves junk mail."