…Aaaand Back Down Again

As a sort of follow-up to my last post, I wanted to share another awkward Moscow story. The awkwardness all fueled by me – not any scary Russian cashier or pulled over taxi driver (who really was a funny guy). Althoug  the woman working at the dry cleaners, where this story takes place, was a little frightening. But she wasn’t mean. Just expressionless and a little cold. I, on the other hand, was a complete wierdo.

The first time I went to the dry cleaner next door (Himchistka No 1), I just popped in to check prices. The place is small so the lady behind the desk/register was about 3 feet away from me. I looked at their price list in complete silence and for some reason the fact that she wasn’t asking me if I had any questions and that we hadn’t even made eye contact was making me really uncomfortable and hot and sweaty. At the same time I was happy because I just wanted to check the price and not necessarily use their services. On my way out I tripped up the alternating sized stairs and almost broke my face. I ran out before I could see if anyone saw me. I returned later with a skirt and gave it in to be dry cleaned.

This was months ago during one of our other trips out here.

Two days ago (only the day after the incident with the taxi driver) I went to the dry cleaner to drop off shirts for Andrei. This would be my second time using their services (but the third time in the place). She inspected the shirts and then asked for my last name. I started to spell out Schafranek (in Russian Ш-а-ф-р-а-н-е-к) and somewhere in there messed up the letters and had to start over. I don’t have to spell my last name out loud in Russian very often, so have pity on me. Plus the lady was scaring me in my already awkward state. Again, she wasn’t mean…I just expected her to be so I was already on ‘Defenseless American Idiot Mode’.

I remembered that the first time I used them, for the skirt, they had completely botched the spelling of our last name (most likely because of me, but whatever). So I knew it wasn’t going to pull up a record when she spelled it correctly this time. Nothing came up on her screen, as expected, so she asked, “Have you been here before?” For some reason my brain thought it would be easier to just say no than to explain that they spelled my name wrong the first time. So I answered no. She asked me again had I ever been there (as if she didn’t believe me) and I lied again, looking down at my hands, “No.” I could feel the look of blushing childish guilt spreading over my face. Why couldn’t I just say my name was wrong the first time? All I wanted to do was throw the shirts at her and run out.

She continued to create an account for me with the rest of my details, “What’s your first name?”. Easy, Olga – everyone in Russia can spell that on their own. Then she asked for my number. And I had a mini panic attack. In my 2 second pause before answering I realized that perhaps my old record with the messed up name would come up because the phone numbers would match. Even though the name was mispelled it was close enough to see that I was the same person (plus my first name would be there too). And then she would know that I lied, possibly about the stupidest thing you could ever lie about. Within those 2 seconds I decided that if it did bring up my account I would just say that Andrei must have come in with something and left my name and phone number for who knows what reason. Luckily nothing alerted her in the system, or if it did she stayed silent for which my ego is forever grateful.

She printed out a pick up slip and receipt for me that I had to sign. I signed my initials. At home when I sign initials I sign, OSS (Olga Stephanie Schafranek). Without really thinking, but sort of half thinking, I went to sign in Russian and signed OCC (an O with two Russian S’s). Which is wrong. My initials in Russian are ОСШ (Ольга Степановна Шафранек). I just stared at the receipt as I gave it back to her…defeated. I wasn’t going to try to write over it or cross it out at this point. I had already messed up my name once in the last 5 minutes, I wasn’t going to show her that I did it again. Although she could figure it out for herself if she looked.

At least I watched my step on the way out that time.

I’ll have Andy go pick up his shirts.

For those interested: one pencil skirt cost 600 roubles to dry clean; two dress shirts also cost 600 roubles. 600 roubles is about $19.


4 Responses to “…Aaaand Back Down Again”

  1. Okay, now I understand where the soothing sirki come into the picture! Your posts, except for the awesome cooking ones, often remind me of my experiences navigating everyday life in Paris back in the 90’s! Hang in there!

  2. Ох. У меня сестра, кстати, мужские рубашки сдает в “немецкую химчистку” по адресу 1-й вражский пер., д. 4 (м. Смоленская). От вас, наверное, далековато, но она говорит, что берут 190 рублей за 1 рубашку.

  3. Post a photo of the dry cleaning lady!


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