Saturday, February 25, 2012

For Your Convenience

While in California a few months ago I had the pleasure of holding Spencer up to a drinking fountain and letting him run the water over his tongue and down his chin.  I suppose every American mother has experienced teaching their children to drink from a drinking fountain.  It's so funny how difficult  something so simple can be.

And what's really funny is that NONE of my kids know how to do it.  This is crazy.  (Although Evie claims she pretty much got the hang of it during her month in New Jersey last summer.)

When I first met my in-laws, when they visited us 13 years ago in Provo, one of the things that shocked me was the fact that my 11 year-old Polish nephew had absolutely no idea how to drink from a drinking fountain.  I'd never met anyone that was out of diapers that didn't know how and it was hilarious watching him try.

Now here I am with four children of my own, all out of diapers, who are also fountain-drinking impaired.

If you've spent any time in Europe you probably understand why.  No drinking fountains.  The nearest one I know of is 9 hours away in Freiberg, Germany, at the temple (just one of the many things I love about going to the temple).

No, one must purchase water.  Always, always purchase water.  No free tap water in restaurants, no place to catch a quick sip in the mall.  NO FREE WATER.  I miss drinking fountains and their convenience.

But there's something over here that I love almost as much.  While in Łódź recently we drove through the streets at night and I saw these little bonfires placed randomly on the sidewalk.  I thought that was so weird.  Greg told me they are simply for pedestrians to warm themselves at.  "How cool!"  I thought (ironically).

Apparently during the time of martial law in Poland from 1981-1983 koksowniki were "invented" (?) mainly to keep the militia (during that time the police were referred to as militia) warm as they paced the streets making sure people were keeping curfew and other communism-imposed laws.




Fortunately the militia and the curfew and the communism have gone the way of ... other Polish-repressing bad things, but the coal bins?  They're still here.


And I'm glad, because while we were out at the optician and getting Spencer a passport we did a lot of walking.  It was well below zero (in both Fahrenheit and Celsius) and we froze.  I was shocked at how quickly this thawed us and how wonderful it felt.
.




Almost as shocked as I was when I first watched my nephew at a drinking fountain.

13 comments:

jo jo jane said...

huh. my school drinking fountains are retarded. the water is just one of the ways they make sure that you come home stupid.

Susan said...

I always hate drinking out of drinking fountains, I'm not a germophobe, but I sort of feel like one whenever I AM drinking from a fountain. (I DO drink from them regularly, though, since in spite of the fact that I drink lots of water, and nearly always bring my water bottle with me in the car, I don't like to carry it while shopping and walking, so paying for water vs. drinking it cold from the fountain, finds me on the cheap, quick, and easy side every time...

I LOVE the warming fires. What a great idea. Just don't through Spencer in! Cute little ham :)

Moody said...

Wow, imagine no free water! Weird! And I agree, the fires are "cool"! Thanks for still visiting my spottily posted little blog and commenting. I still follow yours as well, but seldom take the time to comment (very bad blog etiquette on my part!)

Erin said...

I was naively surprised that they don't have a drinking fountain at your church. And then I realized that you don't have a typical church. Where do you go to church? (What kind of building?)

I love learning more about other cultures. Thanks for sharing!

Lara said...

It's so funny to realize things like this that seem so totally normal might not exist in another culture.

I tell you, though, the Poles are onto something with those sidewalk fires. I think I'm going to lobby my city council and get us some of those!

Brittany said...

When I went to London for a summer abroad, I drank really, REALLY a lot of soda. I refused to pay for something that should be free, so I chose Dr. Pepper over water. I think they did have some drinking fountains though.

Kazzy said...

This post made me laugh! Funny that something we write off as instinct really is a learned thing.

Carolyn V said...

Wow, I never knew they made you buy water. That is so interesting. But the coal bin...great idea. ;)

Jenn K said...

I was a social taboo mess in Holland when I carried my red water bottle with me and went to the bathroom to fill up with free water (after paying 25 cents to use the toilet in the restaurant I was already paying for food in). I did this so I didn't have to keep getting 8 oz refills of room temperature seltzer water. Blech.

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L.T. Elliot said...

That's pretty awesome, I won't lie. I love when you post things like this because for a minute, I see the world through your eyes and through your town and it's so romantic for me. Thank you.

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