The way Cezary Milewicz sees it, his lot in life hinged on two chance occurences: a pre-paid postage stamp and the decision to take an evening stroll.
The first came in his native Poland. Born in Korsze, a town of 4,724 in the country's northeast corner, Milewicz first set foot in a firehouse when he was 5. His grandfather was a firefighter, and when Milewicz was 19 he enrolled in the fire academy in nearby Ketrzyn. He graduated two years later as a lieutenant, and worked for five years at a station in Ketrzyn.
Those were good years, he said. He met and married his wife, Emilia, and the two were planning to start a family.
It was around then that Milewicz accompanied a friend to the post office to mail a green card application.