A dozen Zomos - members of the motorized antiriot squads - lounge on the steps of the hotel - one of several Warsaw buildings requisitioned as barracks when martial law came to Poland a year ago.
''Bah!'' the young cabbie explodes in fractured English as we pass. ''Police! Eat, drink. . . . Nothing else!''
The disliked Zomos have been visibly less active since protests have subsided in Poland, but everyone sees they are still around. The question for Poles is how much longer their presence - and the martial law they represent - will continue.
Poland's parliament convened Dec. 13 - at Polish leader Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski's request - to begin dismantling martial law.
(In a television address on Dec. 12, General Jaruzelski announced that martial law would be suspended before the end of the year, although some restrictions would be maintained. ''The suspension of martial law means that its basic rigors will cease to function before the end of this year,'' he said. ''Only such regulations should be binding either in full or limited dimension, which directly protect the basic interest of the state, create a shield for the economy, and strengthen the personal security of citizens.'')
Since July General Jaruzelski has said that martial law could be suspended or ''even repealed'' by the end of the year, providing the security and economic situation of the country were right.
How far have his criteria been met?
The economy looks better, though the general rightly calls it only ''convalescent.'' The market - with basic food rationed and strict distribution - is stabler than for a long time past.