Friday morning rush hour Kostia and I were getting on the Metro. We squished into the train and, just before the doors closed, another person got on. “He just had to squeeze in here,” said Kostia, in the habit of assuming that those around us don’t speak English. Then I noticed the spark of recognition in the man’s eyes. He turned to Kostia. “Sorry,” he said sheepishly, with a slight Russian accent. Then he gestured at his bag. “My survival kit,” he said.

The guy was about our age, friendly looking, slightly nerdy, the sort of person we’d hang out with. Embarrassed at our bad habit of talking about the people around us, I said “Busted!” to Kostia and proceeded to giggle until the next stop. When we got there, the guy jumped off the train and sprinted away. Then we realized that he probably thought we were tourists laughing at his English. Both Kostia and I felt really bad.

I wish the St. Petersburg Times had an “I Saw You” section like the Washington City Paper does. I’d write “You: nicely-dressed man with stylish glasses and beard getting on the Metro at Chernishevskaya at 8am Friday morning. Us: Rude expat/Russian couple who weren’t laughing at you. Please forgive us and let us buy you a beer and be your friend.”

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