Sunday, January 30, 2011

In medias res

It was a very scatter-brained sort of day that started out with not being able to get dressed. This is not a rare occurrence in the winter, but on this particular day it was related to not wanting to go to my doctor's appointment. After dawdling for awhile, I ended up having to sprint over the snow and bumpy ice to get there on time.

So far, so good. I went and checked my coat right away and put the plastic bag-thingies on my shoes. But how was I supposed to check in? I didn't know if I had to go the registration desk or not, so I did, just in case, and told them I had an appointment...but didn't remember the doctor's last name. "It's the rheumatologist, " I said confidently. The receptionist looked confused. "He's not in until evening," she said. D'oh. I gave my last name and she looked me up. "You have an appointment with the TRAUMATOLOGIST," she said. "The orthopedist." Whoops. They sounded the same in Russian to me. You'd think I'd have it right since it was a follow-up visit. Oh well. read more/-

After the appointment, I looked around to make sure I had everything with me, and wondered where my coat check tag was. Those grannies are pretty particular about their system. I always put it in my pocket, and there was nothing in my pocket. But my mind was blank. I went over to talk to the grannies anyway, thinking maybe someone had found it and turned it in. They hadn't. "Take another look," the grannies said, shaking their heads sadly. "Otherwise you'll have to pay a fine." At least they didn't yell at me.

I went through the motions of checking the examination room again, combed the hallway, looked in my pockets and purse one more time, but no sign of it. Meanwhile, my chances for being on time to my next appointment were growing slim, even though I had gotten out right on time.

I walked by the reception desk, remembering how I had stood there for a few minutes. But surely the ladies there could have walked the 10 ft. to the cloakroom and handed in a found coat tag?

There was nothing else to do but pay the fine. Somehow the lady in charge (there were still other grannies attending) of the cloakroom had "stepped out" and I had to wait for her in order to write a letter to get my coat back. There was a model that I had to follow. I was thinking that it was good that I had studied the cases and also studied different business letter formats last year. Everything is sort of the opposite of what you'd expect. For example, in the upper right-hand corner you write the addressee's position (dative case) and where he/she works (genitive case because it's the director OF something), and the address, and then "from" plus your name (genitive case), blah blah blah. That's the heading.

Once I had written the letter, I handed over the money for the fine and they let me behind the counter to look for my coat. I couldn't find it at first and had this panic of wondering how I was going to get home. How could I walk home in the winter with no coat? It was quite a relief when we found it.

I finally left the clinic and scrambled through the snow, dodging the missiles that were coming from above as several roofs were being cleared. Something made a rustling noise and I looked down to see that I still had blue plastic bags on my feet! And all the trashcans were buried under snow.

Fast-forward a few hours and I'm on my way home. Standing on the platform, I reach for my hat,'s gone. One I had just gotten for Christmas! Arrrrrgh. How could I have lost two things like that in one day?

I got home in the evening and my cell phone rang. I didn't recognize the number, but answered anyway, just in case. "Elizabeth?" I couldn't understand at first, but finally realized they were calling from the clinic. "We found your cloakroom claim tag. You had left it at the registration desk. The next time you come see us you can get your 50 rubles back, don't be shy."

"Thank you." Well, that was nice of them to call.

The end of a strange day.


  1. Oh, my! How I love this post. I'm just laughing.

    "Those grannies are pretty particular about their system."

    That is Russia to a "t". There always seem to be grannies (or, someone - age really doesn't matter) who has a system, and are pretty PARTICULAR about it. And that system is frequently not one that makes much sense to me - the American model would be to ignore all the details totally - but NOT IN RUSSIA!

    And, I can just see you walking out on the street in the booties!

  2. Actually, the grannies are REALLY efficient. The government would do a much better job if they hired some grannies! They make good babysitters, too.


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