More on the local communication style

Inspired by today’s experience I’m adding a page on the services of…How does Russian “погонщик” translate? Muleteer?

Here is the story:

I needed to get information on the availability and cost of about 50 items. A standard small service. The sort of things I routinely do to pay my rent. You naive westerners would think that e-mailing a list to the seller is all it would take. I, having spent most of my life here, was a bit more realistic. I went not one but two sellers. From one, whom I contacted by e-mail, I received “yes, most of these items are available” reply. No info on prices. Silence when I attempted to elicit more information. Knowing that my compatriots have a blind spot for e-mails I made myself overcome the force of gravity and went to visit another dealer. Chatted with them in the best Russian style I could master. Presented the list. Was assured that 90% of what I needed can be easily obtained and that tomorrow I’ll get all the details and they’ll be ready to put the order together. I left the list to them to fill in information on availability and prices. No answer next day, which was Friday. Well, Friday is Friday. Nothing on Monday. Since I’m paid to do these things, on Tuesday I had to show persistence, started

the old diesel at -20C (-4 Farenheit), and visited them again. Two clerks were sitting in an empty store staring into space. The list I left them on Friday had a couple of notes on it. I proceeded to ask about availability in stock or the possibility of ordering, and the prices of course. For each item I had to repeat all three questions further breaking them down into modifications: (1a) Is it available? (1b) Is it in stock? (1c) How long will it take to get it? (2) What’s the price? (3a) Is the item exactly as on the list? (3b) What’s the difference? Yes, for each item, all the

way to the end of the list. At least 150 questions. Felt like a member of the Holy Inquisition. Or more like a German torturing a Soviet partisan.

Why am I complaining? If information was easier to get my services would not be required, right. But still I’m ready to scream and bang my head against the wall.

A new page inspired by today’s episode  >>



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