I was visiting my friends Maggi and Mihau in Zabrze, near Katowice. I hadn’t seen them in almost a year, since their wedding.
It was a spontaneous trip and they had to work, so there wasn’t anything planned. So after arrived, Maggi asked me, “What do you want to do tomorrow?”
Me: “How about Free Hugs?”
The next day, I met Maggi and her workmate Gabi in Katowice to do Free Hugs. We took our signs and started on our way. Katowice is a post-industrial city, kind of like the ugly cousin to Krakow but I like it because it’s totally unpretentious. Sort of like the girl next door who’s cute but wears dorky glasses. One of my favorite places is the kebab shop opposite the train station, run by two friendly Polish girls who look like they should be on the cover of FHM rather than selling processed meat high in sodium and saturated fat. Wait, maybe not the cover of FHM but definitely in FHM. At least on an advert page.
Katowice can also be a bit rough around the edges, however. We went to the bus station, thinking that people waiting for a bus could do with a hug. But that didn’t go so well when a guy started screaming at me in Polish. He must have intimacy issues.
(The best thing about being cursed at in a foreign language is that you can’t understand what they’re saying, so it’s like it didn’t happen.)
We walked on to the main pedestrian mall and had much more success there. Most of the people hadn’t heard of Free Hugs before but after a brief explanation many were happy to have one, especially after seeing other people get a hug without any ulterior motive. Overall, it was a great free hugs outing. It’s nice when you get to see people’s barriers crumble.
I realized as well that my recent hitchhiking adventure had made me a more effective free hugger. I was looking people in the eyes to catch their attention and had my arms outstretched to appear more approachable. It worked for hitchhiking so why not for hugs?
Best of all, we got grandma hugs. I love how grandmas everywhere give the best hugs.
Ever been free hugging?