Of course on this trip to Russia, I was there for business. There were a few of us meeting with business partners to go over their “plans” for the coming year. We can use the term plan loosely here. After many five-year plans under the Soviet Union, I think planning was abolished. First off, the meetings are rather different.
In America and many other countries, you meet, exchange some greetings, possibly display some mutual respect and talk business. In Russia, it can be a little different. You greet, you sit down, then the supplicant (us) then professes undying love and fealty to the partner (them). The partner then spends as much as 45 minutes in a monologue about how wonderful they are as a partner and how very lucky you are to have them as your partner. English is the primary language for the meeting as it is only the language common to everyone in the room. Listening to 45 minutes of broken, halting English in a warm room after you’ve already perspired through your clothes once by 9:30a in the Moscow heatwave is like hearing the drone of an airplane engine. He’s not really saying anything at all so it’s all you can do to even stay awake. And then he says something so funny, it jars you awake and you have to stop yourself from laughing out loud.
Somewhere near the end of the monologue on their “plans”, when he’s talking about why they can’t do this and how they can only do that on a full moon, he makes everything clear. “If we invite too much customer, we can no make followup.” What?!? If they have too many customers they’ll just have to turn them away? This sounds very much like a bakery line during the Soviet days. “I’m sorry, but we ran out of software today. Get here earlier tomorrow. Do svidaniya.” This is the grand plan after spending 45 minutes regaling us with your unique qualifications? Ok. As Napoleon found out, this may be a long, cold winter.