a big beautiful mess


Today I had one of those experiences that only has one appropriate response: *facepalm*

I went to Moi Dom, the closest thing Russia has to a Target, to buy some gift bags and things in preparation for tomorrow’s holiday. It’s the Day of the Defenders of the Fatherland, which has expanded to be basically Men’s Day, as a counterpart to International Women’s Day on March 8. There were a bunch of homemade posters in the korpus today wishing the young men of the Institute of Philology and Intercultural Communications a happy holiday. Anyway, I’m taking the opportunity to give the night watchmen at CentrIn chocolates as little tokens of my gratitude. But back to Moi Dom. I quickly found a section of gift wrapping supplies, which included a big fat roll of nice blue fabric ribbon marked at 2.50. That’s 2 rubles 50 kopecks. I was skeptical, but I wasn’t going to pass that up, so I grabbed it.

And then I got to the cashier. She informed me that the spool was longer than one meter. “Okay,” I said. It was obvious. She scanned it and said, “It’s 2.50 for a meter.” “Okay, fine.” That made way more sense than 2.50 for the whole thing, and it would still be way cheaper than the same ribbon in the States. The cashier called out to another girl in the Moi Dom apron and asked, “Find out how many meters this is.” The second girl took the spool of ribbon and disappeared. Fine. Standing in line for way longer than seems necessary is something I’ve gotten over here. Shortly, the girl returned. With a meter stick. And started to meticulously measure the whole. freaking. thing. Right there at the cash register. The cashier shooed away some other shoppers who tried to get into what seemed like a short line. After about four meters, I interrupted by asking, “Is it possible to just buy a section?” “Yes, of course.” I paid for five meters and left, just dumbfounded by inefficiency.

Came home and took a four-hour nap. Oh, Russia.


  1. 23 February 2012    

    Oh, that’s a great story! Somehow what you relate is not at all at odds with other things I hear about that place. Keep the sense of humor going; it’s actually armor against this sort of stuff!

    • 23 February 2012    

      Oh, absolutely. If I didn’t have a sense of humor about this kind of thing, I would be an angry, unpleasant person everywhere in the world.

  2. 23 February 2012    

    oh my how i loved this post so much. reminds me of the poor postal worker who has to hand tear 4 individual stamps and then paste them on each postcard that I send (and this is after she finds them in a page protector in a binder in a drawer in her desk). ps, love your default pic ;-)

  3. Randi Randi
    23 February 2012    

    My 5th year students had never heard of the word and/or concept of efficiency! And these girls are brilliant. Blog post to ensue about our conversation.

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