The quirks of the Soviet office

Another month passes as I let my blog, my love child of anger and ranting, languish on the interwebs. So many distractions and so little time, but in any case, seeing as how I'm in the office, I thought it only appropriate to talk about what my little corner of soviet paradise is like.

I won’t say exactly what I do here, but I’ll say that it’s more result-based so nobody really bothers me, or the area I work in. I eat when I want, arrive when I want and basically leave when I want, provided I get my stuff done. II wouldn't say there’s anything I particularly dislike here (something rare for me), so I’ll break it into the good, the weird and the annoying.

the good

the atmosphere
Now, I'm sure this isn't the case in every Russian office, in fact, I'm positive of it, but here we have a couple of other foreigners, one of who is my good friend and the Russian girls in our section all speak great English and a lot of them have lived abroad, some since childhood, others for study. This creates a kind of nice duel language atmosphere

I learn lots of new and weird Russian words, the latest which include some interesting combinations like: паяльник, флюгер, урановый стержень, ратный подвиг, выкабаниться, лазарет, отмычка, звонница and other delights. Since I firmly believe in continual self-improvement this is great for me, when I worked in an office in England I felt like my brain was dying. Just picking new things up helps me feel like I'm keeping sharp and it’s making my Russian better every day.

Tea and lunch

Everyone just has their own supply of shit and keeps it in the fridge or whatever. If I want some tea, I bust out my milk and tea bags and it’s on. I prefer this since I don’t like coffee so much and don’t want to be plugging my cash into a vending machine for shit-size cups of coffee all day.
Also, the canteen is pretty decent, again saves me money and gives a bit of diversity to my semi-appalling diet.
You can eat and your desk, drink there and do whatever the fuck you want. Lunch is as long as I want it to be, which is usually no longer than it takes to eat.

That sweet, sweet Russian ratio, coupled with a seemingly invisible amount of dudes in my mid 20 age bracket. The ratio of good looking women to men here has always been great in Russia, and our building is no exception. Seriously, I love it. Also, I think the boss of our section specifically hires young 20-something hot women.
Is it fair?
am i going to complain?
that might sound a bit of to one of the few women readers I have, but that’s how it is. If any foreign dude here starts trying to pretend otherwise, he’s bullshitting. Trust me, we guys here love it and there’s nothing wrong with a bit of admiration in my opinion, if that makes me a sleazebag filth meister, I’m cool with that.  

The weird

Drunk old men
there are a lot of older people here, and I mean old. Like some are 70 plus. This actually isn't that much of surprise (it was like that at the faculty I studied Russian at) and I actually think it’s quite nice that they are kept around and not just thrown out. What it weird, is that some of the older men somehow manage to get drunk at work.
I know, it sounds silly, but they do and it’s quite obvious, I just don’t know when or where.

Seating layout
this is one thing I find a bit odd. We have like three departments (I'm guessing) in one fairly large room. We are all divided into three strips by walls or poorly-made furniture and nobody really socialises outside of the barriers. The most socialising I did was when I was talking to one of the chicks from the translation section (which is in the middle). As for the third wing, I don't even know what happens over there. Sometimes we’ll stroll over there just to see what’s up.

there is all kinds of odd, random stuff scattered around. See for yourself:
also, some of the building wings haven't been renovated and so some of the end corridors are like a time warp into 1980-1990. I think some people work there too, although I can’t be sure.
I know some people smoke there, but other than that I'm clueless. Here are some of the things scatterd about the place:

                                                                50" high-def plasma

The annoying

opening the window
every time someone opens a window (applies more in winter time); the Russians start to get paranoid about getting ill and stuff. If you try to explain the benefits of fresh air and the fact that people get ill from microbes, not cold air, you will be told you are wrong.
My flat mate also frequently tells me this too. “You better close your window, you’ll get ill!”
The older, more war-like soviet ladies here take this shit very seriously.
One time there was a kind of shouting match between the head translator lady and some other one about the window being open.
It went on for 15 minutes.

old man toilet smokers
I don't mind smokers and I don't care for the ‘dirty-smoker’ label band wagon. You wanna smoke? Fine, I don't give a shit either way, just don't exhale the fumes in a baby’s face or anything weird like that.
What I don't like is the toilet smokers that refuse to open the window. I mean, Jesus, is it so hard to crack a window? I come out of that place stinking of smoke.
also, a lot of times you walk in there and it’s like a 60+ smoker conference - a bunch of old dudes, bunched together like grapes, gossiping like a gang of playground bitches and fumigating the fucking place out.

Also, and I’m just going to throw this out there, trying to poop with an entourage of old men outside the cubicles is somewhat difficult. We all need to poop at work sometimes.

On another note, I’m no urologist, but some of the incredible noises that come out of there are far from normal. As me and all my fellow muzhiks know: our prostates are a ticking time bomb just waiting to get us...(that is, if a falling icile doesn't do it first)

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Anonymous said...


Anna on October 15, 2013 at 12:17 AM said...

Those Russian terms you mentioned -- I think I know three. Which makes you more Russian than me. Which...I dont know whether to be proud or ashamed.

PS - if you hadnt noticed yet, I love your blog :)

Lt. Columbo on October 15, 2013 at 10:53 AM said...

Lol, well lock pick and weather vein aren't the most useful words, but still.
And thanks for reading of course, I'm always glad to have a new duel Russian-American fan!

Anonymous said...

You are are a very funny writer! I'm glad I discovered your blog tonight. Although I'm married w/kids I still want to try to work in Russia w/my family in tow. I have a lot of skills - so we'll see.

Lt. Columbo on December 15, 2013 at 12:45 PM said...

Russia can be a tough nut to crack for sure, but i hope things work out for you and your family. good luck!

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