The Week is Dead

After a long, hard Wednesday at work I went to the kitchen around 4pm.

‘How are things?’ Magda asked.

‘I need more coffee to get me through the rest of the day,’ I replied.

‘Me too… But środa minie, tydzień ginie,’ she said with a smile.

It was the first time I had ever heard that expression…and it made me laugh. What a wonderful little saying! Wednesday is passing, the week is dying.

But what I liked most about the phrase is that it expresses solidarity. We were both tired at work and couldn’t wait for Friday afternoon. Look on the bright side, we’re three fifths of the way there!

I once found the expression środa minie, tydzień ginie on a website offering ‘inspiring quotes’. That’s so Polish I thought. Saying ‘the week has been crap, but don’t worry it’s almost over’ isn’t exactly inspiring…it’s more like consolation. But actually, on that long, tiring Wednesday afternoon, it did give me a lift.

I do wonder why it’s Wednesday and not Thursday that is passing. I mean, after Wednesday there’s still two days to go until the weekend. After Thursday, you’re straight into Friday! Still… I can’t disagree with Piątek – weekendu początek.

Talking of Friday, I’ve observed some Poles picking up the American habit of wishing one another a ‘happy Friday’. Unable to wait for Friday afternoon when it’s normal to say ‘have a nice weekend’, some people turn Friday into a happy day too. Incidentally, I’ve never heard anyone wishing me a ‘happy Monday!’

The expression ‘have a nice day’ didn’t appear in the UK until the late 1980’s when McDonald’s opened their first outlets. Their staff were trained to wish customers a nice day at the end of the interaction, and it’s become a common expression ever since. I’ve heard that miłego dnia only appeared in the 90’s in Poland. Luckily for you, the Berlin Wall was holding it back throughout the eighties.

Personally, I’ve never been a fan of the expression ‘have a nice day’. The intention behind it is great, the problem is with its resolution. To quote the comedian George Carlin*: ‘Everybody wants me to have a nice day…That’s the trouble with have a nice day, it puts all the pressure on you. Now I’ve gotta go out and somehow manage to have a good time!

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So actually, although it’s less positive, Polish chit-chat is more realistic. Everyone can relate to środa minie, tydzień ginie. Nevertheless, Americans’ positive attitude is spreading fast. Will it conquer Poland? I’m not so sure.

I used to work for an American corporation and had a lot of meetings, calls and interactions with American colleagues. One of most important emotions in the US is excitement, and during a typical meeting, Americans would say how excited they are at least once. In the US it’s important to be positive and give the impression that you’re happy, energetic and engaged.

Poles have a hard time adapting to this – I know because I ran training for groups of Poles about the differences between Polish and US corporate culture, but they didn’t go very well:

Me: You should say you’re excited at least once during a conference call with your American colleagues.

Poles: What if we’re not excited?

Me: Doesn’t matter, I don’t think the Americans are either. They just put on a positive face.

Poles: Isn’t that false?

Me: They’re trying to share positive emotions and create a good atmosphere.

Poles: But it’s hard to get excited about a new time management tool. we just don’t care that much.

In the US, there’s pressure to be positive, wear a smiling face and wish everyone a nice day. I definitely don’t feel that kind of pressure in Poland.

So Happy Friday!

The week is dead.

Have a nice weekend 😉


*George Carlin