Damian Kuck-Doszko has the appearance of a happy bouncing ball, oozing good mood. Guests who visit the popular restaurant “Jakobs” in Görlitz must act quick if they want to catch him for a chat. When asked about his life, the energy-filled host answers while working the impressively steaming Italian coffee machine, taking orders from guests in German, Polish or English, as well as collecting cash at the pay desk. His first memories from Germany reach back to the early 80s. He remembers waving to girls on the other side of the Neiße river when he attended elementary school, and they waved back with a giggling smile across the then destroyed bridge of Deschka, a small village near Görlitz.
He also recalls summer holiday trips with his parents into Saxony in the time before reunification. His life got more exciting after the wall came down. Damian built friendships with people across the border, that became more open then. To a friend, he talks a lot about the TV series Olsen Gang and recognizes how similar people are, despite speaking different languages. The high school classes in Zgorzelec offered him a deeper insight into the German language; skills he likes to apply on occasions like nightly parties in the Görlitz club “Basta”. Probably, the girls have a part in this, too.
For his studies of sociology and politics, he headed to Opole, but kept close connections to Germany. In the summer holidays, he looked for opportunities to make some money and found a job in a brewery restaurant in Cologne. There, he was physically challenged, which he likes, since he is faster than most others; hence his tips were quite grand. He graduated with the academic thesis “European city Görlitz/Zgorzelec, Chance and Challenges of Integration.” Seventy pages of thoughts about the future, looking back to the separation after the end of war in 1945, and a view into the future to come.
Even though a job in the civil service is at hand, he quickly realizes that he is till to unsettled for working at a desk. He takes a bus and an airplane and lands in Dublin. Many of his school friends and academic colleagues are already there. Prospects to a proper payment and a life amongst people of different nationalities attract him.
After only four days, he finds a job as a plate carrier in a restaurant. His chef, seeing it with joy, makes him an assistant in the kitchen. Soon after that, he tries his skills as a cook and proper waiter to the guests. In the spare time, he hits the school desk and learns English like a maniac. He knows that his language skills will be his greatest treasure. Soon he moves into a quarter of Dublin with a lot of Chinese, Spanish and Italian residents, a great mixture to his ears. He also makes Irish friends. With help of these, he learns that IBM always searches for fresh employees, he applies and gets a job as a clerk in the controlling department. The payment is fantastic and life seems to give him love. Yet, he does not like fixed-term-employment contracts, sometimes only issued for some months.
Damian searches for stability, wants to be a settler, not a labour nomad. Hence, he changed jobs to national airline Air Lingus, where he worked in the Ground Operation Department. What might sound like a great thing, is actually tough work; he had to load and unload airplanes. Yet, the money is alright and he gets a permanent contract. He likes the job, the international team and the Irish air – until his family called from Poland. His mother had become critically ill, and he knows that this is the moment to pack his bags.
Once again, as fortune favours the brave, he is lucky when asked if he wants to rearrange the “Jakobs”. It is set to be a modern, international restaurant where work and fun shall be combined and all kinds of languages will be spoken, both of which not common aspects in Görlitz. Yet, many people long for such a place, coming from groups with boundless desire for a European future. People such as Damian Kuck-Doszko.
If asked, what keeps him fascinated for the European town, Damian doesn’t have to search for thoughts. “It’s amazing, how many exciting people I have already met. Architects, writers, film crew members, journalists from all kinds of countries. They like coming to eat at our place and we get to talk to them.”
In addition to that, he likes the beauty of the town and its surrounding. The nearby Berzdorfer lake is his favourite place to relax, “… and to ride my racing bike is much safer on the German side than on Polish streets!”, he says.
If he wishes to stay? “Sure, I would love to have my own restaurant. Pure, Bio, Vegan. Healthy food for relaxed people, that would be my dream. Something connected to all the places I have lived in. I already have a name for it: Equal.”