Don't Nobody Hire...

Chicago, the Windy City and home to the biggest Polish population outside of Warsaw, Poland. Photo source: Max Bender, Unsplash

Chicago, the Windy City and home to the biggest Polish population outside of Warsaw, Poland. Photo source: Max Bender, Unsplash



Chicago: The Windy City. Chiraq. Chiberia. Some controversial names but home of the legendary Bears, so it can’t be that bad. I’ve only been there once, and that was with an ex-girlfriend. We’d been travelling from North Carolina to Illinois via Texas in a Driveaway car, you know it how it works, you go to an office in Portland in the north-west and tell them you want to get to Philly. It’s good for people on a limited budget as I was back then. The journey itself was kind of a ‘roundabout road trip’ but one we’d enjoyed all the same. She wanted to go to Chicago — she was Polish, after all: it was an American city that appealed to her more than any other.


Once we got there (on her behest), we headed straight for the Avondale neighbourhood, called Jackowo amongst the Polish-American community in the city’s northern suburbs, but didn’t see much Polish culture going on apart from a few Polish sklepy (shops), a butcher’s and the odd bookstore. Nothing exciting, especially for me, as though I liked Polish culture I would’ve preferred to go to the city’s Southside as that’s where all the Irish lived. A big Guinness drinker back then, I hadn’t really tasted the Black Stuff since I’d been living in America and was thirsty for some.

We decided to visit the Polish Museum of America on Milwaukee Avenue. Again, not so much for my benefit.


When we get there, it’s closed, unfortunately.

“Let’s go,” I say — we’d parked the car a few blocks away. Cleveland would be our next stop. I wanted to get there by nightfall.

“No,” she said. “I want to go inside.”

“But it’s closed,” I said.

One thing I’d learned about Polish girls was this: don’t argue with ’em — you’ll lose, every time.

She disappeared, I didn’t know where. She came back a moment later with a smile on her face and this big black fella — for a second I thought it was William ‘The Refrigerator’ Perry.

“He’s going to let us in,” she said.

The man was a security guard who worked the place.

“It aiyn’t eleven yet,” he said to me.

I glanced at my watch: it was fifteen minutes to ten in the morning.

We’d picked up a flyer about the museum from a Polish store on Pulaski Avenue.

“Where’s the flyer?” I said to my girlfriend?”

“It’s in the car?” she answered.

“Did you check the opening times?”

“I thought it was nine ‘o’clock,” she answered.

Great, I thought to myself.

“Ya’ll have to wait people,” the big security guard then said.

My girlfriend looked disappointed:

Are you sure you can’t let us in?” she asked him, using the tactic she was always using with me: the sad eyes, the Puss ‘n Boots cat’s eyes from Shrek.

“I shouldn’t really.”

“Oh, go on?”

“Sorry, miss, but I’ll get in trouble if I do.”

“C’mon, let’s go,” I said.

She wouldn’t budge. She wanted to get in. She hadn’t come all the way from Texas to be disappointed:

“But I’m Polish and we’re leaving Chicago today — I’ll never get another chance.”

Her tactic was working, I could see it: the security guard smiled.

“C’mon, let’s go,” I said again, embarrassed at her approach.

“Please, sir, if you do you’ll be my hero…”

No, don’t say that woman, I thought.

“Listen,” he began, “I can let you in, but you gotta promise me ya’ll be quiet in there and not do nothing I wouldn’t do, y’hear?”

“Yes, of course,” she said as I just nodded my head.

He opened the museum door, closed it behind us, and said:

“You got twenty-five minutes, people. Not a minute more. The director and some other workers’ll be here at nine-thirty.” We agreed. “All the museum stuff’s upstairs… Oh, and the musician’s room, don’t touch nothing, especially sitting on the bed. The cameras aiyn’t working, so I can’t be watchin’ ya’ll.”

We made the tour. It was nice, I have to say, but I couldn’t believe he’d just left us — we had come off the street, we could’ve been anybody.


“Oh, look,” my girlfriend exclaimed enthusiastically, “this is The Paderewski Room.”

This was the room the security guard must have been talking to us about. It was a bit cluttered, but interesting all the same.

“He was a pianist, wasn’t he?” I asked her as she sat on what I presumed had been his bed in life.


“Don’t sit on the bed,” I said, paranoid we’d be arrested and thrown in jail.

She got up, then started picking up plates and brushes and other things on display. I just walked out. I didn’t want to get implicated in any crimes.

“We’ve finished,” I said as we were coming down the stairs.

The security guard was snoring in a chair. We woke him up:

You finished, yeah?” he said with a yawn, struggling to get his big body up.

“Yeah,” I answered.

“Didn’t touch no shit, I hope?”

“Nah, not a thing,” I answered. He opened the door to the museum. “Well, thanks for that.”

“You gotta smoke — I ran out,” he then asked.

“Sure, I do,” I said, realising it was the least I could do for the fella who’d made my girlfriend’s dreams come true.

Jan Paderewski, Polish pianist. A national hero in his native country who slept in one hell of a comfortable bed. Photo source: Wikicommons

Jan Paderewski, Polish pianist. A national hero in his native country who slept in one hell of a comfortable bed. Photo source: Wikicommons


We went outside and smoked. As we were, a car parked up. Another black fella — much older than William Perry but wearing the same uniform — got out of an ancient, battered car, the type all African-American security guards on the minimum wage owned.

“Hey, Reggie,” the big security guard said to his colleague.

Reggie acknowledged us with a smile before saying:

“You waitin’ to get in folks?”

“No, we’ve already been in,” I said.

“Did you let ’em in, Michael?” Reggie asked. The big security guard didn’t know where to look. “Well?”

It’s all your fault, I thought as I looked at my girlfriend, not at all pleased with her.

“Yeah, boss.”

“You better go,” Reggie said to us. “Don’t nobody hire this dude!”

We escaped.

I don’t know William Perry’s fate — I just hope it all worked out all right in the end.