I was reminded of this scene this morning, one that doesn’t seem too likely –or one that would exist for too long– in parts of Bydgoszcz, Poland, where I’ve been staying and working since Sunday.
It was just after 8am and there was a man sleeping on a bench at the Opera tram stop, opposite of the one where I was standing. Less than two minutes after I arrived a police car pulled up and two officers, dressed in black and wearing high military style boots, got out. They walked towards the man, nudged him a few times to rouse him, pulled him up and led him away, tugging on his shirt every few steps to help him maintain his balance before depositing him in the car.
Vagrancy of any sort, be it sleeping in public or panhandling doesn’t seem to be tolerated very much in this northern Polish city of about 350,000. I’ve walked in several neighborhoods and areas in and near the city center throughout the week and have seen less than a handful of beggars — considerably less than you’d encounter in most other European cities every day.
Besides this man whose slumber was cut short, I’ve encountered no other daysleepers like the one above, one of dozens I’d walk by ever day on my strolls through the Colombian capital last year. I find this scene relaxing, the man’s confident sprawl in the doorway almost contagious. The scene’s cherry on top is the wall scrawl next to him, scribbled in English, a reminder that nothing, by virtue of its mere existence, is still something.