Aunt Kelly and I took a long walk to the Petrograd Side today to check out a movie theater rumored to show films in their original languages. (Usually films are dubbed, badly.) We were going to try to see “Lemony Snicket”. I asked the cashier if it was in English. Alas, it was dubbed. I was willing to see it in Russian, but Aunt Kelly wasn’t. So we kept walking.

We had lunch and went to take the Metro home. I went through the turnstile. When Aunt Kelly put her card in, the turnstile ate it. There were still five rides on the card! The woman in the controller’s booth started yelling over the loudspeaker. A guard came over. I attempted to explain the situation. He told us we were just going to have to buy a token.

The guard, understanding that I spoke Russian and Aunt Kelly didn’t, motioned for me to go around the controller’s booth back to the other side of the turnstile so that I could help her. We got on line. We got some tokens. Aunt Kelly went through the turnstile. Since I had already been through, I went to the turnstile next to the controller’s booth so she could let me through. She shook her head. I said, “I was already in there.” She said, “Yes, but you left. How many times are you going to go through? You have to pay.” I said “I did pay!” If you count the card that was eaten by the machine, I’d paid six times! She told me to leave. I stood my ground. The line behind me deepened, and the guy after me asked, “What’s the problem, girl?” I started to explain when the guard came and directed me to go back through the passage behind the controller’s booth.

The price to ride the metro in St. Petersburg just went up from eight to 10 rubles, and the bus from seven to 10. 10 rubles is about 35 cents. This is expensive for Russians, but cheap for us. If it weren’t so cheap, I would have made a big stink about the turnstile eating the card. However, I’m not sure I would have had the vocabulary to make a big stink, and that upsets me. What upsets me even more is that controller bitch. We lost a five-ride card and STILL she wouldn’t let me through. Why? Why do they have to be that way?

The other day I got on a bus and found myself in the middle of a tempest in a teacup. A young woman was refusing to pay for her ride, and was arguing with the ticket lady. In addition to the New Year’s price hike, they also got rid of the free transportation benefit for students and pensioners. The young woman was saying “I have to pay for my apartment! I can’t afford to pay for the bus!” The ticket taker was saying, “But you have to pay! It’s the law!” The young woman said “Are you the government, or are you one of us?” The other passengers were taking sides, yelling. Usually no one talks on the bus. The debate raged until the bus reached the end of its route. The driver slammed on the brakes and the young woman went flying. I sprinted off down Nevsky Prospect.

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