One day, in the winter of 1985, in the morning, in front of an apartment building at ul. Wielkiej Niedźwiedzicy, at the Kopernika housing estate in Gliwice, I was clearing the snow from my family’s Fiat 126p. We had to go somewhere, somewhere away out of town, I think, and my dad put me in charge of clearing the snow from the car. I accepted the order with pride; I probably asked for it myself. Anyway, I performed it with great enthusiasm. I was equipped with a special tool for this – a sweeper or brush, but it did the job moderately well, as the snow was quite heavy and frozen, and I was quite weak. The bristles of that sweeper or brush didn’t penetrate deep enough into the structure of the snow, so instead of removing it, I was just sweeping away its top layer, and basically smoothing and hardening the bottom layer. So I decided to modify the way I used the tool – I turned it with the bristles upwards and started to hit the snow so as to drive the wood as deep as possible, and then I scraped the snow away. It worked much better.
A man and a boy of about my age, probably father and son, walked past me. Seeing me, they stopped, and the man called out: “Can’t you see, punk, that you’re scratching the paint?” or something like that. I froze. I was overcome with a mixture of indignation, horror, regret and shame. I have never felt anything like that before (but I did feel it several times later, for that matter). “That’s my dad’s car,” I said, struggling to stop the tears. “Yeah, right”, commented the boy, then looked at the man – probably father – who didn’t address my comment, but ended the conversation with a growl of “leave it or you’ll destroy it”, and they kept going. The boy followed the man, yet he turned around a few more times, before they both disappeared behind the corner.
I don't remember what happened next, but I clearly remember the sensation of a heavy door opening in my head. I didn’t know they were there and I really didn’t want them to open. It was dark and chilly outside the door.
Agnes is finishing her line. Alojs is kneeling down. He is kissing her shoes. The twelfth minute.
(transl. Magdalena Małek-Andrzejowska)