Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The day I accidentally paid a bribe

This happened a long time ago, but I was reminded of it again recently.

It was my first year living in St. Petersburg. My friend (also American) and I were riding the bus. As usual I flashed my all-purpose paper bus pass at the conductor. In those days, the conductor didn't have an electronic wand to check passes. But sometimes a "controller" would get on the bus with an instrument that he could use to scan your documents and take disciplinary action if necessary.

I obediently showed him my paper pass.

"Blah blah blah" he said. I guess my Russian wasn't very good at that time.

"Show him your electronic card," my friend said. I took out my electronic metro pass that accompanies the bus pass. +/-

"Blah blah blah." Apparently there was a problem. I finally understood from my friend that I was supposed to have (handwritten) the number of the electronic card on my paper bus pass, so that they would know that I had paid for them at the same time. I suppose the electronic one could have expired. But then how would I have obtained the paper one, since it said the name of the current month? Anyway, I had been buying this pass for months, all the while oblivious to this special rule.

The controller was yelling at me now and asking me to get off the bus and do something. I looked up and saw a sign that said there was a 100-ruble fine for unpaid fare. I shoved 100 rubles at him and got off the bus, since we were at my stop.

"Liz, you just bribed him," my friend said.

Did I? I didn't mean to.


  1. some tims thats just how its gotta work

  2. That's funny! I wonder what would have happened if you hadn't given him the money?


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