"Siberia 2007" story # 21

Tomsk, Russia           July 9, 2007

Although some of "you", the readers, my beloved queens and princes for whom I'd do anything you wanted, even give you the stars to wear --
     although some of you didn't like it when I wrote, not long ago, that "you" had decided to hitchhike to Siberia (when, in actuality, it was I), I'm going to once again write using the second-person narrative. Because, I guess I wouldn't do anything you wanted, after all. I'd only give you the stars to wear.
     So ... you arrive in Tomsk, Siberia, with its lodge-sized wooden houses wearing antique wooden window shutters, following your tremendously successful hitchhiking trip from the Czech Republic. You saw a few countries, you changed money when you needed to, you bought a handy Russian road atlas. The hitchhiking worked well, you paused often to swim and rest when tired. The unfamiliar world was dazzling you once again.
     But, you'd been in all the countries before, so it's not surprising you were successful. It's funny how most unfamiliar things seem impossible until you do them, and then they just seem easy.
     You now have to go about finding someone who'll let you stay with him/her. You heed the advice of your wise Russian guru living in the Czech Republic, and go near the universities. And you meet Yinga, a short-red-haired painting lesbian who's somewhat strong, but who is caring and who laughs in the night with her friends as if darkness didn't exist in the world. A place to stay!
     Stop. Your plan now is to line up a job for September. But, your successful streak ends here.
     Trying to live with so many people, you get distracted. One evening, even, Yinga's roommate Sasha, a stuttering guy, fries "pelmini" (pasta shells filled with meat) to make a crisp, crunchy snack. And you watch Russian actors acting out old episodes, joke for joke, of the old American sitcom, "Married with Children." Ha ha, the Bundi's used to be funny! Remember when they vacationed in the refrigerated section of the supermarket because they couldn't afford a summer trip to the beach?
     ... Hey. Focus, man, focus! You should be looking for work. Take off your stars, you don't deserve them.
     To maximize success, you should utilize the following:

a map of the town
discipline in waking up early
daily plans that you follow
your attractive resume, in the local language - or, if you've been fired a lot in the past, it's probably better if it's not in the local language
a winning smile
definitely NOT a losing smile
refreshing leisure-time breaks
no fear, when it comes to asking strangers for directions and locations and advice

There. That's the whole manual.
     Now, because I love all you kings and princesses, I'm gonna give you the first-person narrative you so desire - even if I have to boldly go where most writers daren't, breaking the rule of no-changing-the-narrator's-perspective-mid-story. ... And put your stars back on!
     So ... I didn't utilize the first four items recommended in the manual, nor did I enjoy many Acts of Spontaneous Ecstasy during my leisure-time breaks. I did find a job. But, I was in Tomsk longer than I'd planned to be, and the job I found could just as easily have been found in September.
     Before leaving Tomsk for the summer, I saw a Western-style Irish Pub and ventured in. A friendly waitress greeted me. The fun and laidback atmosphere washed over me, a relief from the English-as-a-Foreign-Language scene which can be rules-rigid and unnecessarily joyless. I said the equivalent of, "Take me to your manager." I often love waiting tables.
     I also learned that waiters make more money than university teachers in Russia. Educated workers are often very poorly paid; it's better to be sly in business. br>     The manager wasn't in. Maybe I can also wait tables a few days a week in the fall.
     When asking strangers for "advice", (watch out for another narrator's-perspective boomerang) you should try to learn which jobs pay enough to live on; which jobs give you food or a place to stay; and whether there is a "Help Wanted" section in the newspaper's classified ads. Also ask yourself: "What are my skills? Can I make money off them?"

good luck! - Modern Oddyseus

Much thanks to Sergei for the place to stay!

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