6.03.1997

Belorussian Bits Continued:

Every country has its set of folk humor. I suppose many of them get lost in the translation, but some of them are priceless. They pass down generations of proletariats, and where to find more proletariats than in a former soviet republic. One has to be present at the right place at the right time to get the full flavor of the stories, and also, one has to find the jokers. I have met the jokers.

This classic one is from Moscow during the Soviet days:

The Politburo pretends that they pay us, and we pretend that we work.

I was trying to assemble a duct work and the pieces were just not coming together. As I sat and tried to figure it out, all who passed by offered their two cents? Frants, the trainee mechanic came up with this little one.

Why is it difficult to make love to a woman in the town square?
Too many people stand around and give advice!!!!

The creme de la creme has to be this one, and this has become our theme joke. Our trainees apparently told this among themselves early on in the project, and it was conveyed to me by Vladimyr...

A foreman and his apprentice went to repair a sewage line. They opened the manhole cover and find it to be full of excrement, a filthy situation if there ever was one. However, the work had to be done, so the foreman dove inside the line. After a minute, he came out and wiping the grime shouted “Get me a set of wrenches". So the trainee ran and got the tools. The foreman went back into the sewage pit. Coming back smelling of manure (or worse), he said "Get me some pliers and wire coil" The trainee complied. And so it went on this way for a couple of hours. Finally, the foreman stepped out of the sewage. He was covered with the sewage contents, and it was caked on his body about an inch thick. His hair was matted, and it seemed that he would forever carry that stench around... Trying to scrape some gook off his face, he told the trainee “You see, unless you work hard and learn the trade; you will just end up passing tools all your life."

And so it is, our trainees walk around and tell each other “Unless you work hard and learn the trade, you will be passing tools all your life".



Our hotel in Naroch has a hall downstairs, where there is a TT table. Most nights, that table is moved to one side, and a DJ cranks the stereo, and the place is a disco with techno Russian and Euro pop, the only song that I recognized was Rasputin (Boney M).
We became friendly with a bunch of school teachers and one night they asked us out to dance. From then on, we went to dance every night the disco opened its doors. We would sit in the bar, tired and ready to drop dead, and the girls would come in and say "Disco, yes, Show-vick,
Doan, Al-en, Bay-er-nie," and if we said "Nyet" they would say "No Nyet, yes...” Finally, they would drag us to the dance hall by force. I have to confess one thing here, all my life I have dreamt of such a situation where girls would come and ask me to dance every night, and if I refused, would grab my arm and drag me... IF I was ever predicted such a future for myself, I would have had visions of Utopia. But we live and learn every day. We get up around six-thirty and go to work; it's almost a 45 minute drive. The weather has been pretty miserable, with intermittent showers which mean I am drenched by 5 pm. We get back to the hotel no earlier than six and quite often, there is no hot water for a shower. To top it off, we have been now working 10 straight days... In the midst of this schedule, after three nights at the dance hall, I feel that I have died and gone to disco hell. Thankfully, the girls left today, back to Gomil.

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