03 July 2006

I Should've Had a G8

There are times when St. Petersburg feels very familiar. Last month it was as if I was living on the street where I grew up in Colorado Springs. The city was full of the familiar smells of choke cherry trees and lilac bushes. The air was full of bits of floating cottonwood fluff (it's been variously attributed to birch and poplar trees as well). The weather was mild and the skies were blue. It was very familiar.

Then, there are times when I know I'm living in an unfamiliar land. Often, this strikes me not in climatic differences but in what I see as tremendous inefficiency. It frustrates me no end! I asked for internet access in August and got it in January. My satellite went out in April and I'm still waiting for it to be repaired. Office workers prepare for their month-long holiday by doing little work in the fortnight prior. After all, you'd hate to start something before your holiday. And I won't even begin to detail the ridiculous process involved in exchanging my broken mobile phone.

The worst part for me, as I've mentioned before, is the widespread acceptance of this inefficiency. "That's just how it is here." That's what they expect. If it's taking four months to make a phone call about my satellite, it must be because it's very difficult. Some of it, I think, is a holdover from Soviet times. Life was a game, work was a game. Since personal initiative and efficiency was not going to result in any recognition or personal gain, the object of the Soviet game was to do as little as possible while convincing everyone that what you DID do was as difficult as possible. That way your pay-per-accomplishment went up.

The G8 summit is coming to St. Petersburg in a few weeks. That has led to a flurry of activity--and inactivity. Things along the route the G8 members will take are being spruced up. Ugly new signs of the you-are-here variety have been erected all over the city centre. We're trying to make a good impression.

At the same time, the G8 is a HUGE excuse for not getting things done. And, it's a polically correct one at that. Do you remember in "Bridget Jones, The Edge of Reason" (Safari won't let me underline or italicize on blogger...must download mozilla...) when the roadworkers and hairdressers took off work in respect of the memory of Princess Diana? That's what I feel is going on here. While I know the this is a big deal, I find it difficult to fathom that everyday life has to come to a standstill for the G8 conference.

If only I'd known about this excuse sooner! Perhaps I wouldn't have had to do report cards or register my (now famous) friend Dawn when she came to visit. The sad thing is, I'll be gone for the G8. I'm headed to England to visit friends and former pupils. If only I'd planned better I could've had a G8.

1 comment:

Lauri said...

We adopted from Russia in March 06 and spent nearly a month there total during our 2 trips. I get what your saying about the Inefficiency.... Its very hard to explain to people. I think as americans we expect things to get done in a certain fashion & timeline.... to get what you pay for.. so to speak. Not true in Russia. The same goes with the info certain people would share with us re: our adoption process, we recieved info on a step by step basis... very hard for me. I wanted to know what to expect and what was next. I love your blog