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Автор: Administrator   
11.11.2010 10:18



The Price is the most important argument

Year 2000 … summer … Krasnoyarsk … Reydovaya Street 68а, Krasnoyarsk Biochemical Plant, the plant director’s office... planning meeting...

“Well, dealers? Where’s the grain?” Sergey Mikhaylovich Voronin (director of a distillery) inquired, looking at everyone present.

Those present, and there were 18 of them, very big fishes, lowered their eyes to the carpeted floor, and were very silent.

The bright morning sun shone through the large windows on the left side of the office and the air-conditioning was working, but the mood was grim. It was the first time the director gathered so many people and not just people, but “dealers”: people allowed to “receive” production and in the area of which responsibility included all deliveries of the plant: from brushes to bulldozers. Everyone stuck to their own topics, someone delivered chippings, someone else petroleum products, and someone else grain … But! No-one EVER climbed into someone else’s orchard. And here EVERYONE was together, and there was ONE problem for ALL – to bring in the grain! The warehouses of the factory were empty, there was grain for three days, and 200 tons per day were required!

And what was there to say? Collective farmers sold grain at 3000 rubles per ton, and the good old factory took it for 2500, or otherwise the spirit was not economical.

So, it was necessary to work unprofitably, and certainly we made a profit on the spirit, but not 20 percent! As a result, it was still at a loss.

“So,” the director began with confidence in his voice, “he who doesn’t even deliver at least 300 tons in the next two weeks will give his “topic” to another dealer. You are free.”

“Well, what went on?” the guys in the office asked me.

“F... here’s what. Two possibilities: work with a loss, or become redundant from the factory.”

“And are we really going to have to bring in our own fuel? Because we are 1% from turnover,” Denis said in disbelief.

“Possibly,” I answered gloomily.

“Alright, let’s get on and study advertisements and start to do grain,” I ordered.

“Aah-ha! here’s the Grain Purchase column, call…”

“Hello.”

“Hello, you buy grain?” we ask.

“Yes, we do, what have you got and what’s your volume?”

“Wheat, 100 tons,” we lie.

“Well bring it to the city, and for 3000 we shall take it.”

“And take it where to in particular? The Barkhatskoe or Berezovskoe poultry farm?” we say trying to discover who the final buyer is.”

“What’s the difference?! Bring it to the city, and we’ll work something out. Cash up front.”

“Thanks, we shall think about it, good-bye.”

Damn! So that’s how it is: basically the collective farmer calls, and I offer 3000! Yes? Understood. Surely, he won’t bring it to us for 2500? Darn!

Hang on, here is an idea! (I am on a plane from Krasnoyarsk to Beijing, my friend and participant of the described event, Denis, is sitting to my right. I ask: “Deny, who thought it up, do you remember exactly? You or me? “I don’t remember,” Denis answers, “you I think.” (“OK, let it be me.”).

“Look!”

We do three things:

1. We put an advertisement in the local paper: “Truck drivers required, excellent wages.” In the same issue we put another: “Security guards needed, students accepted.” And one more: “Earnings for housewives.” Everywhere, we specify the same phone numbers of the guys who buy grain;

2. We hire an old woman, a “contact” phone, and we advertise: Grain purchased, without deception,” I and we tell her what to say;

3. We advertise: Grain purchased, and we put our phone number.

“I don’t understand…”

 

A few days passed, and we did everything as planned. Tuesday. The newspaper comes out. We wait, watching the phone.

A call!

“Hello?”

“Hello.”

“You buy grain?”

“Yes, we do, 2500 rubles at the biochemical plant.”

“Are you taking the Mickey? What are you up to? Last week we called and got 3000, and today you are offering 2500? Bloody hell! Today I called and an old woman offered 2000,” the collective farmer boiled, and let out his anger upon us.

“Don’t shout! Calm down. If you want, sell where they offered you 3000, only they don’t pay with cash, and now everyone is looking for them, and we really do give cash,” we answer.

“Well, I cannot get through there all morning, its engaged all the time,” our interlocutor answers, having already calmed down a little.

“There, we told you that everyone’s after them, the phone is off the hook. 2000 is low, but 2500 is the real price, though you know, and harvest is soon, so there will certainly be a lot of new grain, so 2000 is not far off. It’s up to you.”

“And you don’t deceive anyone?”

“Of course not! What volume do you have?”

“100 tons.”

 

“Bring it here tomorrow and the money is on the table.”

“Alright, tomorrow I shall bring a truck load for testing and if all is OK, I’ll bring the rest to you, too.”

 

“Agreed!”

 

In 3 weeks, we brought 350 tons to the plant, and when our “competitors” saw that people sold it at our price, they lowered theirs, too.

P.S. Did you think that we were the champions? We thought so, too. But the director of the Kansk biochemical plant competing with us, Mr Petukhov proved that HE was the champion. In the same year, in the autumn, when the price for grain is minimal and there are a lot of offers, instead of paying the market 2000 per ton, he at once gave 2500, and bought for himself the entire annual warehouse stock, then in the market there was instantly little grain, and our plant was compelled to lift the procurement price of grain up to 3000, which increased the cost price of production! And the price, guys, is always the most important argument, and cheap spirit was brought in from Kansk.

China, Baoji, 2 November, 2009

 

Pushkin Nose Apple

Meeting the wishes of my readers, I shall try to write the shortest story in my creative work.

 

Our time. October, Moscow:

Investa Finance office, time 21:00, my Italian partner Pierpaolo and I after having just been in a traffic jam, returned from a meeting: hungry, wet and tired, at the office was just his assistant, Maxim, and the secretary, Tatyana and one more “non-Russian”, Aldo.

The situation: a non-situation, especially, as at our place it was already one o’clock in the morning, and Muscovites do not like working very much, or basically, they are all slack.

I walk into Tatyana’s office:

“Tanya, you want a test?”

“OK!” Tatyana wearily, answers, smiling.

“Call Maxim.”

“M-A-X!” Tanya hollers, without troubling herself, as if she were on a building site.

“What’s up?” says Max when he arrives.

“Look: you see, I take a sheet of paper and write something on it so you can’t see what it is?” I say, addressing Tatyana.

“Well, I see you are writing. Then what?”

I, hiding from Tatyana and Max, write three words: Pushkin, Nose, Apple.

I continue:

“You will now count aloud loudly and clearly from one up to 20, and during this time, I will interrupt you by asking a question which you immediately answer, well, for example: one, two, three, what is it? And I show her a pen, and you say ‘pen’ and continue to count, OK?”

“OK, count?”

“Max, you now leave through the door, and come back when we invite you.”

“Ready?”

Tatyana nodded.

“One, two three…”

“Louder!”

“ONE! TWO! THREE!”

“A Russian poet!” I ask the first question.

“Pushkin!”

“Five, six, seven, eight.”

“A part of the body!”

“Nose, eight, nine, ten.”

“A fruit!”

“Apple, eleven, twelve…”

“Stop! What were your answers? Repeat.”

“Pushkin, nose, apple.”

“Now look, I’ll show what is written on this sheet…”

“Blimey! … how’s that possible? And what, that means I’m like everyone, yes? Damn, well in fact I wanted to say Tyutchev, and I like lips more than noses, darn.”

“Shall we call Max?!”

“Max!” by tradition, I yelled for Max.

Max came in, I began, and Tatyana mysteriously smiled.

The same procedure and there were the same answers, one by one.

Max turned out to be the same as Tatyana.

“Shall we go to Paolo?!” I proposed.

Briefly startled, but having quickly overcome “subordination, our cheerful threesome moved to the boss’s office.

“Paolo, you need to do a test, a short one, ready?” not giving time for reflection, I pressed upon him.

Having looked at his employees and instantly copying their mood, Paolo answered: “OK!”

And here I had an idea! He’s a foreigner! Another language, another fruit… what if?

“Paolo, count in Italian…”

“Right!” nodded Paolo.

“Uno, due, tre!”

“A Russian poet!”

“Pushkin!”

“Quattro, cinque, sei!”

“A part of the body!”

“Nose.”

“Sette, otto, nove.”

“Fruit.”

“Apple.”

“Stop!” I shouted.

“Look,” and I stretch to the sheet of paper.

“Oh!” gasped Paolo, very much surprised, “And how do you know that? And why are they laughing? Did they answer the same? Roman, explain.”

P.S. When my employees who are receiving a task from me answer my question “why aren’t you writing this down?” by saying they have a good memory, I start to say aloud 5 three-digit numbers out of the blue, and in 10 seconds I ask them to repeat them… As a rule, they correctly name no more than two (yes, I myself after 10 seconds can no longer remember what numbers I called out).

“So that means out of five of my tasks, you have only understood two? And the others cannot be fulfilled because you don’t recollect them?!” Then they start writing things down.

And, when again one of my employees talks about a forthcoming meeting with someone, saying “he is unpredictable!” I mention this test. The main thing is to place a person in certain conditions and you will receive a highly probable result. Don’t you believe that?

Then say:

Two plus two multiplied by two is how much? 8, yes?

And what do you think now?

Author: Roman Goldman

 

How i got lost in Taiga Part 2

 

6 am. It was dawn, and the first rays of sun started to dry the humidity. My friend and I woke up and looked at each other. Ugly mugs, no one had even slept properly for an hour.

 

 

“OK, let’s go,” Denis said.

 

 

“No, man, now we shall lay down and sleep NORMALLY.

 

 

We woke at 9. Honestly, even the stream did not seem so awful now. Three hours of sound sleep gave us strength and cheered us up.

 

 

Having eaten a breakfast of the last can of meat (what were we thinking?) and having put on our semi-dry clothes, we bravely continued our path along the stream. The body went on strike and joints did not want to move. I felt like the Tin Woodman. How far have we walked already, I wonder?

 

 

We keep on walking, it’s midday, and we began to notice that we are following some kind of reasonable footpath. It bypassed wood near the stream. And who laid it? It is obvious who: a bear. And what if it has hidden and is waiting for us? Bears are extremely curious (says Sanya Kaban). I decided to shoot, having taken the gun from Denis (to be honest, I felt bad the whole time he had it).

 

 

Bang! Damn, that was loud. But not necessarily less interesting to a bear. We walk further.

 

 

Stop! A kettle! Actually, next to the footpath was an ordinary iron teapot, if a little bit holey. It means there was a person here?! We did not expect that...

 

 

Kostya, the saviour

 

 

In half an hour, we see a building in the distance. What is that? Robinson Crusoe? A canopy was made of tree trunks and next to it man with a gun in his hand.

 

 

We get closer.

 

 

“Where are you from?” he asked with surprise.

 

 

“From the sea,” we answer.

 

 

“From the sea??? And how long have you been walking?”

 

 

“Second day. Listen, give us some tea, will you? If you have any.”

 

 

“Oh, really! Come in, sit down, I’ll get you tea. I’m Kostya, by the way.”

 

 

“What is this stream called?”

 

 

“Greater Zyryanka. But people do not go here. It’s old, overgrown and difficult to walk along.”

 

 

“You don’t say, no-one would argue with that. Kostya, and what’s in that jar?”

 

 

“Grayling fish. Treat yourselves! Fresh, caught this morning.”

 

 

It was tasty! Seriously! You do not know how delicious TEA can be! And the fact that it was made from stream water and cheap teabags was by-the-by! Who needs expensive tea.

 

 

Bliss. Freshly caught grayling is quite something!

 

 

We felt human again.

 

 

“Is the Mana river far?”

 

 

“Yes, a kilometre and a half.”

 

 

“And where do we come out? Is Kaban far away?”

 

 

“Sanya? Down the river another 6 kilometres. Go along the ridges. You’ll get there in a couple of hours.”

 

 

“And where is the bear?”

 

 

“I haven’t seen him, but probably not nearby. But be careful, you aren’t really very safe with your rifle.”

 

 

We sat for an hour and continued our journey. Kostya told us in detail how to go and even walked with us a little, at the same time showing us his camp. In general, it was interestingly arranged. On the stream he had constructed a dam and had made a canopy. In the dam, new faces were laying. So here’s where you catch your fresh fish! At some distance there was a house with generator and cellar, everything you need.

 

 

“And have you been here long?”

 

 

“A long time,” our new friend has answered dryly. For reasons only known to him, he added nothing more.

 

 

Having said goodbye, we went downwards to the river at an accelerated step. A footpath: for humans! And it was pleasing.

 

 

Mana!

 

 

We arrived at the Mana.

 

 

“To the left,” Denis reminded us.

 

 

But to the left was an absolutely impassable rock.

 

 

Damn, we should have turned earlier. Now, through the water (where is seemed to be deep) or back up the hill. We chose the second option. Uphill we “went”: grabbing bushes and holding tight, moving 6 steps. Then we sat down and took breath. Again, 6 steps and we sat down. Hell, it was difficult! I was beginning to suffer from an allergy, a runny nose and a stream of “ahchoos”. So what was I allergic to? My handkerchief was wet and what could I do? Damn, when will we be home? Well, at last we are at the top!

 

 

Oh, now I understand why Kostya said: “Walk along the ridges.” Along the ridges there was little vegetation, the grass was not very high and it was easy to walk along.

 

 

We walked for an hour, cheerfully and easily.

 

 

“Denis, can you see the river?” I asked.

 

 

“What’s to see? It’s on the right.”

 

 

“Hang on, friend. ‘To see’ and ‘to know’ are not the same thing.” Vague doubts started to torment me. “Stop.”

 

 

“So, last time we saw the river half an hour back?” I started to reflect. “If you walk without a reference point, the left leg moves fractionally less than the right. That means at an average speed of 2 km an hour, we have walked one kilometre into the taiga, and are 90 degrees off course. Denis, we need to go back!”

 

 

“Roma, what are you talking about? The Mana is on the right, and you propose going back? You are wrong!” Denis became nervous.

 

 

“How can I prove it to you?! I feel we have gone off course! Just believe me.”

 

 

“Check the compass,” Denis suggested.

 

 

“OK, but I do not understand the thing.”

 

 

We got the compass and the arrow pointed north. Now what? Which way? We tried to recall the map of the region.

 

 

“So, to the north is Dudinka. So the south is down, where China is...” Denis remembered. I just turned 180 degrees and went.

 

“Denis, let’s go! Otherwise we’ll start remembering how moss grows on trees. We just don’t know what it means. I’m the eldest, follow me!” I declared categorically.

The following 15 minutes were probably the worst psychologically. Denis groaned, swore, and said that we were wasting energy and spoiling our legs for no reason. And that we were going into the taiga, and the river was on the other side. I don’t know why (I expect there is someone in the sky after all), but I walked confidently.

Stop! We’ve arrived, the dark blue strip flashed below. The Mana!

“F…” Denis swore.

“So, now we don’t let the river out of sight. If it is not visible, we go down to the river,” I said.

That happened in an hour. To walk on the slope was difficult, and from the ridge nothing was visible. We decided to go along the bank.

Only there wasn’t really a bank. Well, there was, but such bushes grew there that you had to either go uphill again or go along the river in the water. Preferences were divided. Denis fought through the bushes, and I splashed in the water. Conditions were the pits and there was extreme tiredness on the brain. Sometimes the water was waist high, but I didn’t care: it was easier than making tracks through the bushes.

42 Kilometres under the Sun

We came out onto a glade. Sun.

“Deny, here’s the Sun Glade. You can see it from Kaban’s and tourists on rafts often stop here. Let’s take a picture!

The feeling that the tortures will soon be over gave us strength. Here is Kaban’s settlement.

We enter.

“Who is it?” A man without any legs crawls in (I see him for the first time) and asks:

“Who are you?”

“Long story. Where’s Kaban? We are from the sea.”

“So it was you everyone was searching for yesterday. Yesterday, Kaban searched for you in the taiga with children from the children’s home. And today about 17:00 they came home.

Time: 19:00. I get the phone, I dial. Find me, satellite!

“Darling, everything is fine! Don’t worry we’ve arrived...”

“Roma, thank goodness, everyone’s on edge! Sasha Khodykin got a boat and says he’s checking landing points. The Ministry of Emergency Situations is being pressed to search. They say: “3 days have not yet passed.” The head of safety has booked a helicopter for tomorrow, Kaban says he searched but didn’t find you.”

“All right, Lor, we are really tired. We’ll go to bed and come home tomorrow. Lights out. Love you. I dial Kaban’s number.

“Sanya, where are you?”

“I’m at home, at Ust-Mana. And you?”

“We are at your settlement. Sanya, be a friend, bring us some beer, would you?”

We started to undress. My God, I have 4 holes in my socks. I already hated boots, all wet. We sat in our underwear on the sofa. Relax, life proceeds!

In 40 minutes, Kaban arrived. We hugged. We said everything in a word.

“Sanya, one question, have you got a map? How far did we go?” Sanya fetched a map.

“So, here you landed. And here you lost the navigator. The nearest stream is Greater Zyryanka. You, what, went along there? That’s impossible! I was there about seven years ago and broke a leg and it took 3 days to get out. Even for a skilled hunter it is a difficult route. And you are tourists. Without an axe or a kettle!”

“Sanya, how far?”

“Let’s count, from the sea 5 kilometres. Then along the stream. Then up to Kostya, then along the Mana… 42 kilometres in total [26 miles]...

- 42! Bugger me!

...I sat on a bench next to the house. 3 meters before me was the river. Ahead is the taiga. The sun was setting behind a mountain, and for some reason it occurred to me that the most important in nature is the sun. And it doesn’t care! It comes up in the morning and goes down in the evening. And it does not care what happened to whom that day, been if there had been a nuclear explosion. And the confidence that you will see it tomorrow is strong. It agree, they were banal ideas, but I would be interested to learn what enters your head after 42 kilometres in the taiga!

P.S. I am writing this sitting on a balcony, on my laptop in 200 meters from Kaban’s settlement. Now I have an estate here, a house on a hill with sauna. Ahead is a frozen river with patches of water. Outside it is +14c, and the streams are running. If the Mana doesn’t start moving after a night, I shall get on a snowmobile home to my wife and daughter. And the sun sets. Where have I seen this already?

Author: Roman Goldman

 

How i got lost in Taiga Part 1

In the autumn of 2006, my friend Denis and I decided to make a crossing I had dreamt of at school. If you look at a map of the Krasnoyarsk Sea, in Bakhta area there is the convergence of the Mana river and the reservoir. As the crow flies, it about 10 km (6 miles), and by “road” 16 km (10 miles), and I repeatedly passed it in winter on a snowmobile. On the Mana, my friend, Sanya Kaban, the forester lives just at the “output point”. The whole route, to the meter, was fixed in my GPS.

To air my head and distract me from work, at the end of August we decided to go from the Krasnoyarsk Sea to the Mana by foot. We were brought by boat to the landing point and at 9:00 I had already made a satellite call to my wife, telling her we were leaving.

We were “thoroughly” prepared. The estimated journey time was 4 and a half hours, so apart from 4 litres of water, a hunting knife, 4 cans of meat (just in case), a first-aid kit, a Chinese compass (what for, if we have GPS?), 150 ml of Cognac, and a Saiga carbine with 11 cartridges (bears, you know) we did not take anything! I lie, there was a book (a gift from the wife), 150 Ways to Survival in Extreme Situations. Now that was everything. Kaban was expecting us for dinner …

The first 5 kilometres were especially easily: we did them in an hour. Constantly checking direction, I stuck the navigator in a rucksack pocket on a shoulder belt and “reliably” closed it with Velcro. We were moving quickly and all conversations were about work... And we wanted to forget work!” Denis complained.

The navigator had gone!

The taiga met us in a “friendly” manner. A thousand small, horrible buzzing insects tried to get acquainted with us more closely, more closely than the mosquito net prudently bought in advance enabled. By the way, another really a wise thing against ticks was proposed and carried out by my friend. Recollecting how in childhood he “treated” his cat, wrapped up to the neck in a polyethylene bag with hand pushed in there with insecticide, he has collected all his clothes (socks and boots, too) for the forthcoming trip in big plastic bag and processed them with 2 cylinders of anti-tick repellent, leaving them on the balcony for the night (so that is why the boat driver screwed up his face).

The 2 meter “Chernobyl” grass started to get annoying. We recollected Indiana Jones, cutting a road through the jungle with a machete. But the footpath, although turning to slightly crumpled grass, was there all the same. And there were raspberry bushes everywhere. Having picked around one bush, we went on to another.

“Check we are going the right way,” my friend has requested.

“No problem,” I answered and stretched a hand to the pocket with the GPS.

A shiver went down my wet back… the pocket was empty!

The last time the navigator specified a direction for us was 40 minutes ago. It had probably “decided” that as we had found a footpath it was not required any more...

There were two options: to return to the sea, first calling so that we could be met. Or to continue along the footpath where many bushes with tasty raspberries grew. We looked back, recollecting what awful grass remained behind us and went on further.

Stepping through the next twigs and branches, I imagined a bear and wondered: “Would it stop here or step through the logs? Yes funny... Will a bear find our GPS and stuff it with raspberries? STOP! Where are we going?!

And here it dawned on me. It’s not our path! This is a trampled bear track! And we have been following it for more than an hour??! And I can’t say I had a particularly strong desire to meet a bear.

“Denis, I think we have lost our way,” I said.

“Aah! Listen Roma, you remember the map? That we looked at in the boat? In how many kilometres is there habitation, at worst?

“In 150, I think, if we go in the direction of Khakassia.”

“And you don’t remember where to go now?” the new participant of the “Survivor” reality show inquired.

“Crazy! I have no idea where we now: and you’re asking where to go... Let’s go back! And when turning back, and having gone a few meters, we discovered with surprise a branching footpath.

“Whose tracks are those?” I asked.

“Well, likely they are mine,” Denis answered.

“And you found it hard to follow me?”

- After you, a raspberry bush is as if the locusts have been at it! I had “worked” on the next one. Jeez! There’s no way back. “Now we are F…d” I thought, “So, it is necessary for something to do. Forward along the “footpath” was impossible, as the bear would be waiting for us. And back was also impossible if relying purely on guesswork.

“Let’s call! We have a satellite phone!” Denis recollected.

“OK, and what shall we say? Come and collect us, we haven’t the foggiest where we are,” I spat. Haven’t you got GPS built into your phone?

Now I recollect my choice of phone model at the local phone company. Yes, I saved 200 dollars... “Perhaps if we stand in an open field we will be noticed,” Denis did not calm down. In the last 2 hours of walking, how many open fields had we seen?! None! Above us were just tops of trees and below was just this annoying grass and overgrowth! OK, let’s at least inform our nearest and dearest...

The satellite with the encouraging number 9 was highlighted on the screen for a few seconds and then disappeared. We’ll wait.

“Who needs a phone like that?!” I began to get nervous. Wait a little longer. It was satellite 9. Maybe now 8 or 10 will catch up.

I looked at it as if I were an idiot: “Catch up where? It is suspended above us, not rolling around space like a billiard ball! Satellites move together with the Earth!”

There was no communication. Apparently the tops of trees highly complicate the signal path.

“What we shall do?”

“Denis, there is only one way, I read about it in the book. A boy lost his way and followed a stream and in a week came to a river.”

“Are you taking the Mickey? We have 3 cans of meat! No pot, no tent, no axe! Not even tea!”

“We search for the first stream and go along it,” I proposed.

Stream monster

We walk, and to put it mildly, the mood is not great. For some reason, I really wanted to eat. Probably vague doubts began to torment my brain and submitted a secret signal to the stomach. Damn, only 3 cans! Each at 400 grams! But we have a gun. However, considering that I am a strong opponent to shooting animals, it did not help my mood.

Suddenly, a dog jumped out of the bushes and ran by us.

“Musk deer,” I have said with a clever smile.

“I don’t give a fuck, it nearly scared me shitless,” Denis said.

I was in agreement with the last part of his sentence.

After everything we’d gone through, we decided to have a little bite to eat. We think a half-can will be enough for two. It isn’t and we eat the whole tin. There are two left. It was coming up to midday. If things continue like this, we’ll collapse from hunger. You can’t get full on berries...

We found the stream quickly enough, and it looked like this: on the steep stony banks, trees tried to grow. They grew up to a certain size and under the weight of their tops they dropped into (our!) stream: cross-wise, next to each other and like that for a few hundreds years! An obstacle course comes sloppy second!

It was impossible to walk along the stream. Rocks and bushes looked as if they could not be passed. We were walking along the stream. My God, who knew what THIS WAS LIKE. You cannot pass 2 meters without having to crawl over a tree, or (with a backpack) under it. And stepping on some was just dangerous. The moss hid very slippery wood, and we did not know whether our feet would go through a rotten tree or step on a firm one. And if you fell, you could break your back. And you wouldn’t be able to drag anyone out from here! Feet were constantly sliding between trunks. Then there came the moment when legs ceased to obey (quite literally) and I took another painkiller. My God, why did we find this stream??? And there was high humidity strengthened by the scorching sun, creating a greenhouse effect. There was time for a mid-morning snack. We continued for several hours. Tired was not the word! More likely we were emaciated. Everything was wet, even the book in the backpack.

And here we did not see but HEARD our tread. Think of the sensation when a train goes past just a few meters away. First you hear it, then you see it… the back of a bear running away! A cartridge is in the cartridge chamber, a finger is on the trigger! If only we do not meet! We take a sharp left 45 degrees and we run uphill. The march was short. We stopped on the middle of a hill from stress and lack of strength. We were so frightened that we had paid no attention because of the disappeared mosquito nets, with each breath two or three flies ended up in our lungs. And we breathed like we had been flogged...

We decided to go up the mountain and to go along the edge, to not follow the bear and to not come away from the stream. After walking a little, we understood that the stream was not visible from mountain at all. The chance of getting lost again was great. We went down to the stream. The entire manoeuvre took 40 minutes, but it took the strength of 4 hours’ hike.

Again we go along the stream, the jar of painkillers half empty. Again the comparison entered my head: “If everything that happens on “Survivor” is true, then they are super heroes!”

To be sick and to lose

Time: 6pm.

“Denis, we need to prepare for camp, we’ll need to spend the night,” I said.

“Come, I see a clearance ahead, let’s walk 20 minutes more, but spend the night on the bank.” On the bank of what, I thought? Nobody knows where we are going, I thought, but said aloud:

“We have been seeing this clearance for an hour, but there is there nothing there.”

“I can see a clearance,” my friend with “-3.5” vision in one eye and none in the other announced categorically.

“OK, we’ll walk an hour and that’s it! Camp!”

“Agreed! You will see: in half an hour we shall be on the bank, and there you will see tourists on rafts will appear...” 2 hours passed . The clearance remained a clearance only one getting darker...

“Right, stop” I declared.

It got dark very quickly and you couldn’t see anything…

“Here’s a knife, go and cut some fir twigs,” I have ordered.

I took from my backpack plastic bags, shook everything out and began to tear along the seam. I chose a tree in 3 meters from the stream, spread, like bed sheets, bags in the place where we would sleep, so damp did not rise upwards. Denis appeared out of the night (damn, how much fire wood shall we collect?) He also brought fir twigs. I carefully spread them out on 2 sleeping places. It became chilly. In the darkness we found brushwood, and lit it. With the lack of an axe, we prepared firewood so: we chose young wood, ran, jumped up and down like monkeys and tried to pull it down. Then we twisted the tree in a circle, and the roots which came out of the ground we chopped off with a knife. We placed the trunk in the middle of the fire. It burned and there were 2 trunks. Then 2 burned trunks turned into 4. And further, the same scheme was followed. But the firewood did not want to burn, only smoke. We hung out our wet things on a line above the fire (or more precisely, above the smoke). We stood in our pants. It was freezing. We warmed up the tinned meat (penultimate can), half a tin. The second can we decided to leave for breakfast. We had Cognac, and drank from the bottle (no mugs, no tea, no kettle, damn). Time: midnight. I took the phone out, the familiar satellite 9 decided to “work” a bit.

“There is a contact!” I punched in the phone of my wife and heard the beeps.

“Roma, where are you?” I heard a worried voice.

“Do not worry, Lorochka, we are fine, we got a little lost in the taiga…” and communication was lost. There were no more calls... To sum up: there was 1 can of meat and 10 painkillers. We were completely wet! From jacket to boots. Good night,” I told my friend who lay on the other side of the fire, shuddering from with cold in wet clothes.

Anyone who has slept like this knows: the face burns from heat and cries from the smoke, but the back becomes covered in an icy crust. You turn over and your face freezes.

And around of us, life stirred, because the taiga does not sleep at night. And our stream was even more “active”, than the wood. Something peeps, something cracks, something breaks through the bushes (can they see in darkness?). The buzzing became especially loud. Bedlam. But the weariness prevails and as time went on, we plunged into sleep. I woke up from coughing, but not my own. That was something we didn’t need: somebody being ill. I found the empty Cognac bottle and slipped down to the stream to collect water. Then I wiped the bottle and put it in the fire. It began to boil. I began to push in the remaining lemon peel and leaves from nearby aromatic bushes. I woke Denis. I forced him to drink this liquid, and took a couple of gulps myself. I saw that the fire was stoking itself up. Coals even appeared. I removed my boots put them near the fire, placed more wood in the fire and fell asleep. Stink! Something was burning and making a stink! One of my boots (the right one) was melting. I snatched it out of the fire and felt that the boot had become 2 sizes less! And the problem was not that they had cost 200 euros, but that I had to carry on barefoot. I almost cried.

To be continued…

Author: Roman Goldman

 

 

Adventures of an Italian in Russia

Part 1. Meeting

I have a remarkable friend Mikele Trincha, a citizen of Italy, living in the centre of Berlin in a 4 floor private residence, working in Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine. He is a serious person, a father of four children and the owner of a large holding delivering agricultural machinery from Canada, Italy and the USA. Age 50, height 210, weight 114, drives a Mazeratti. Well, I think you’ve got the idea.

So, this “modest” guy used to a high standard of living told me this joyous news (by the way, he speaks perfect Russian, English and German), that he is coming to visit Krasnoyarsk. When he planned to, he asked friends what to take and what to wear, to which he was told: “Mikele! What are you worrying about? Your friend Roman is there, he loves you and will take care of you.”

Comfortable in a business class seat with a blanket, Mikele slept.

The Boeing flew from Moscow to Krasnoyarsk…

Airport Yemelyanovo… December… Evening…-28C... Wind...

We got to the arrivals hall, Mikele started to look around for me... Roman said he’d meet me… maybe he’ll be late?

And three men approached him, short hair, roguish looks, not very shaven. One, slightly ahead of the others, and with a slightly inclined head, flashed a gold tooth and through his teeth asks:

“Are you Mikele Trincha?”

A surprised Mikele answers:

“Mm-yes. What’s happened?”

“Basically, nothing happened, Roman is running late in the city, some business, so he asked us to meet you, let’s help, where your bags?”

Two Louis Vuiton bags quickly appear in their hands and they staggered to the exit. Dumbfounded Mikele followed them. They went through the car park of the airport.

“Yura, I told you not to drink today,” one said to the other loudly enough for Mikele to hear.

“What’s your problem? Are you are better than me? I’m not driving,” Yura answered.

Mikele raised his eyebrows with surprise and spasmodically made calls on two phones.

“Damn, winter weather, we should have changed the tyres earlier, these aren’t just summer tyres, but completely bald tyres, and today there is black ice, damn!”

Mikele slowly became completely surprised.

The deputy and I sat in the cruiser and watched how three figures and one giant like a schoolboy following adults laughing wildly walked through the car park. I guessed what was happening, as those meeting the guest were our drivers from the gasoline tankers, and the text and style had been carefully rehearsed in advance.

My phone exploded from the number of calls. Mikele’s assistant called from his Moscow number, then he started to call from his German number, the calls were CONSTANT.

A short white Russian car stood out AT ONCE (when the “operation” was planned, he had a very different car which probably wouldn’t even have got to the airport). Having opened the boot, the driver held it open with his head so it didn’t close.

Louis Vuiton joyfully settled down next to the jack, a tyre cover and loads of shit together with canisters, apparently containing oil.

“We’re going in this car?” Mikele asked, already knowing the answer, but trying to keep conversation going.

The door was opened for him and an inviting gesture showed him his place.

Mikele got in with great difficulty and felt his knees press against his ears (the seat was “thoughtfully moved forwards as far as possible, and the back lifted as far up as possible).

Everyone was in. The driver started the car.

“Well, thank God it started! Let’s hope this bitch makes it all the way!”

The car got to the barrier.

“Damn, I forgot! You have to pay!” Yura says to the boys, “Give me money, eh?”

<

Everyone begins to fumble in their pockets and pretend to look for money.

 

Behind us, six cars were lined up, and everyone hated us and didn’t hesitate in showing it, honking incessantly.

 

The pressure in the car was growing and resourceful Yura asked:

“Mikele, excuse me, have you got 100 rubles?”

“Yes-yes, sure, but in my suitcase,” answered Mikele.

“Found it, Yuri,” said one and opened the door to pay for parking.

Our jeep was seventh in line, and only it was the only one which wasn’t honking.

At last, the barrier went up, and the car began to turn out to the right towards the city.

The heater in the car was working to the max and became hot and stuffy.

“Excuse me, please, maybe we can get another car, or take a taxi?” the front seat passenger said.

“No, don’t be stupid, we can’t stop here, big fines, and to get a taxi, you’ll need to walk a kilometre on foot. We’ll get there ok if we don’t break down,” Yura optimistically said.

Having gone 100 meters, the car broke down.

“Damn, spoke too soon!! Get out!” Yura said while Mikele talked on two phones in different languages and, having turned his head, came across a surprised glance, and was eloquently invited to help push the car.

At this point, 30 meters away, I turn on the sound of a police siren.

“Guys, the cops! We don’t have any documents!” shouted Yura, addressing it more to Mikele.

It was last straw.

Now I’ll tell you what we saw with our own eyes: Mikele, having seen the jeep (evening, just the headlights) and having heard the sound of the siren, rushed out of the car, like in a film when a captive is released. And Mikele left with the open arms (it was an Italian film, probably it’s normal there). I left the car.

“My God, Roman, I’ll kill you now!” Life quickly started to fill the 210 kg of his body.

We hugged. Suitcases were quickly thrown in the cruiser, and Mikele collapsed in the front leather seat of a comfortable car, and got on the phone.

 

“Dorothey, meine Liebe...,” further only in German. “Take it, my wife wants to talk to you.”

“Hello Roman, you probably know Mikele very well to joke like that. He was very frightened and called to me and to say goodbye to the children, and we were all very worried. No-one ever acted like that, but he is not insulted, although he will take revenge on you.”

At this time, Mikele was already talking in Italian to someone.

“Who’s that? Your mistress? Did you say goodbye to her too?” I asked Mikele.

“No. That’s my banker…”

I didn’t ask anything more.

Mikele leant back, extended his legs, put his hands on the armrests, and relaxed.

The powerful jeep boldly flew past Yemelyanovo into the night, where snowmobiles, taiga, crossing a small river and a Russian sauna awaited.

Mikele did not suspect that things were only just beginning…

Part 2. Taiga

Next day. Morning. SANGILEN+ premises, in my office we are “dressing” Mikele who is surprised by quantity of clothes and discrepancy in sizes. The felt boots were a hit.

We left the base. Along the way we called into the 25 hours shop on Sverdlovskaya street (a good shop, even if they are competitors). Mikele looked at the 5-liter barrel of beer and asks for a conversion into euros.

“About 25,” I answer.

“Completely mad, that is several bottles of wine.”

“I shall teach you to prepare a real Italian dish, Carbonara,” Mikele said, pulling out a Rigano Parmasan from a heap of cheeses. “Now, spaghetti and eggs.”

We are travelling in the direction of the village of Manskiy.

We arrived at my friend’s house where I leave my snowmobile. We were expected. The car is already there, and Yura is sitting in it, having brought another snowmobile early in the morning for accompaniment.

Outside it is -32C. Freezing. We dress Mikele.

Over his vest we put three sweaters one jacket with the sleeves forward and one with the sleeves behind and usual, covered him with towels and fastened with a cord.

“How many pairs of long underwear do you have?” I asked my friend.

“One,” Mikele said, knowing that it was the wrong answer.

I looked back, so… Vasya goes with us…

“Yura!”

“Yes, Roman Gennadevich,” Yura replied.

“Have you got long underwear?”

“Yes.”

“Take them off, you’ll be sitting in the car anyhow.”

Mikele went into the house and put on Yura’s long underwear.

We left the house, Mikele is very uncomfortable in those coats (where could I find such a size?), and he somehow fidgets.

“Roman, who is that in the yellow jacket?” Mikele asked pointing to Vasilyy equipping the snowmobiles.

“Vasya, what of it?”

“His coat is my size,” Mikele said, liking the game rules of taking clothes from my employees.

“Impossible, he’s accompanying us, just in case.”

“Roman, has the small river already frozen?” the security guard of the house inopportunely took an interest.

“Well, we’ll have to see,” I answered.

Mikele turned his head, looked puzzled and became thoughtful.

“Everything’s ready, boss!” Vasya shouted and stopped to check and fill the snowmobiles.

“So, my Italian friend, you’ve never driven a snowmobile, ever?” I asked.

“No, but I’ve been on a wet bike. I think it can’t be too difficult,” Mikele confidently answered.

“OK, a short course: if I bend, you also bend, we go uphill, you bend forward, we go down, we bend back, the main thing is don’t brake.”

“I said it can’t be too difficult,” Mikele said, pulling on a glove.

“Let’s go!”

The snowmobiles quickly started and went in the direction of the woods. We had to go over the ridges as despite the frosts, the small river was only frozen near the banks. I had hoped that 35 kilometres away, opposite my small settlement, it had frozen completely.

The fact that behind me there was a 2-meter monster who did not understand the principle of driving of a snowmobile and, leaning back, in every possible way hindered my driving: my hands were suffering with the strain.

We moved from the beaten tracks to the non-compacted paths.

Bugger! Mikele sat rocking from side to side, and we needed to go to the right. I bent. Mikele leaned his head to the right. I tried to load the right ski so that the machine began to turn, but mast at the back did not allow me it to do it, and in front was a bush.

“Mikele, to the right!” I shouted.

Mikele still hardly moved his head. 15 meters remaining until the bush. “To the right!

F***… mother,” I shouted.

It worked, and Mikele leant the correct amount.

We stopped on a hill. “Mikele, I asked you not to, don’t be stupid!”

“Roman when I have heard the bit about mother, I understood it was serious and did as you ask,” guiltily justified Mikele.

“Mikele, so that’s what’s what, but I didn’t want to dig in the snow. Hold on stronger”

The “road” went through the taiga, and having gone down to the river, disappeared…

The Mana had not frozen, and in the middle of the river was a dark strip in 12 meters in width…

Part 3. Crossing

“Are we going back?” Mikele asked.

I thought, estimating our gross weight, speed and approximate trajectory. I am silent.

“Roman, do not tell me we are going on the water?! Why you are quiet?”

“I turned in the snowmobile to Mikele.

“Mikele, do you have a family?” I asked.

“You know I do. Why do you ask?”

“And children?”

“Roman, of course! A family and children. You know that! Why do you ask?” asked Mikele worried.

“And I have a family, and a daughter. And they are waiting for me the same yours are. They will wait. Everything will be fine. Trust me. Hold on to me, do not look back and do not bend a centimetre, no matter what.”

“Vasya, come on!”

Vasilyy dug a platform for launch, drove off far away and at great big speed departed for the other bank. The snowmobile went boldly, and it was not the first time that this had been done: there was absolutely no risk. But it is better without a passenger all the same.

“Easy as pie, boss!”

Vasilyy, having landed on other bank, reported it on a portable radio set.

“Hold on,” I ordered and started the snowmobile.

Mikele squeezed me as if we hadn’t seen each other for 50 years. I repeated the manoeuvre along Vasilyy’s path, and took off on the ice.

The snowmobile went well, and only noticeably went 15 centimetres into the water.

12 meters is no distance, and we took off on the ice on the opposite coast.

I got a little more speed than Vasily. And to brake with two riders it is harder. Basically, I struggled on the steep slope of the bank and, after turning sharply to the right I went along the river 3-5 meters from the bank. It was not a good idea, as I knew, as sometimes streams wash the ice away and it is hard to grip. I hoped for a frost. The snowmobile was revving fast, rocked and slowed. Damn! I saw behind us the snow and water was flying and that the snowmobile was losing speed. Gas on full, I leant on the snowmobile towards the bank, and the speed promptly fell, bushes ahead, damn them! Something was caught up. We flew through bushes at a speed of 40 kilometres per hour, again we got in a gully. It was another 50 meters to the field.

“It’s cold!” Mikele shouted.

Well it’s not summer, I thought. No need to shout.

“It’s cold!” Mikele shouted even more loudly and pressed me.

Now… I got angry and sharply lifted up the snowmobile and flew into the bank.

“What is it, Mikele? We are nearly there. Why are you yelling?”

And here I was taken aback. Mikele sat without a hat on.

“Where’s your hat?”

“It flew off in the bushes, I told you it’s cold!”

I removed a scarf and have fastened to it to his head.

“It’s cold!” that’s one way of putting it. Now go by foot, and I shall go alone on this watery ice.

Part 3. Carbonara

“For preparation of this dish, only this cheese will do,” Mikele announced instructively, grating the cheese.

“You know, in Italy it is even taken as a mortgage deposit in banks. And the spaghetti should be cooked for exactly one minute less than is written on the pack. For every 100 grams of spaghetti 1 egg, and an extra egg for the girl (Mikele showed off).

“Roman, tell me please, I certainly understand that we are far in the taiga and perhaps it is a silly question, but do you have some olive oil? To fry onions and bacon, you need olive oil.”

“Open that box and look there.”

Mikele opened a box and closely looked at the bottle.

“Roman, you should only buy Extra Virgin,” Mikele lifted a finger and said instructively.

“Mikele, what did you bring? Look harder.”

Mikele looked and found what he was looking for, and started frying onions.

“Roman, again a silly question, but have you got any spices, other than salt and pepper?”

“On the shelf above you are some mills: French herbs, Italian, mushrooms, white pepper, hot chilli and I cannot remember what, look for yourself. My wife and I love to cook.”

“You surprise me Roman, as you love your comfort,” Mikele thoughtfully surmised.

“It is ready!” the Italian cook solemnly announced and has put a smoking and steaming delightful dish on the table.

Mikele opened a bottle of dry red and put mugs on the table.

“My friend, why mugs?” I asked with surprise.

“You want to tell me that you have glasses here?!” Mikele asked ironically.

“Mikele, open the cupboard above the sink, there are glasses for wine, brandy and vodka.

“Mamma mia! How the Russians live!”

The Carbonara was simply fantastic.

“Mikele, tell us about the Mazeratti.”

Oh! The Mazeratti is a good Italian car, powerful, 400 litres, light brown leather, and it is the first 4-door model.”

“What does that mean? 4-wheel drive?”

“No, it has four doors.”

“Roman, tell us instead about BMW, how are they?”

“I’m ecstatic about BMW, there’s a lot of cool stuff there. For example, the headlights turn with the steering wheel, there’s a projector on the windshield if the machine drives into fog or puddle the brake pads approach the disk and are dried, the wheels are run-flat, so you can drive with a puncture for another day, the car has anti-roll like on motorcycles, and you can go into turns with greater speed...”

“Well, it would certainly be good if all this could be put in one car,” has interrupted Mikele.

“Wait, I’m talking about my car, not BMW in general.”

Mikele thought and said:

“Why would I buy a Mazeratti?”

“Are you going in the sauna?”

“Certainly! I have a sauna at home in Berlin, we steam ourselves.”

“With birch twigs?”

“No, it is not so hot.”

We went in. The thermometer showed 90C.

Mikele sat down on the bench and looks under his legs.

“What is it?” I ask.

“Why don’t the boards burn?”

“Because it not boards, it’s abash.”

“What is abash?” Mikele asked.

“Abash is an African tree which does not burn, it’s very porous.”

“African? What’s it doing here? From Africa?”

“Of course from Africa. You surprise me, everywhere has abash.”

“Russia’s a great country!” obsessed Mikele.

Part 4. Return

Morning, damn, it’s cold! I leave the small house and look at the thermometer... Blimey! -44C, how is my visitor?

I go up to the second floor. I open the door. Mikele lay there covered with four blankets. He has a hat on and only his nose is visible.

“Wakey-wakey!”

“Roman why is it so cold?”

“It’s alright, go downstairs, it is warmer there, I the stove is on and so is the kettle.

“Yes-yes, I’ll go to the toilet and will come down.

Mikele stayed less than a minute in the toilet (outside, as in villages).

“Yes, I like to sit in the toilet in the morning while the children are asleep, reading the newspaper. Here it is all is very-very fast, no newspaper,” smiled Mikele.

“Roman and how will we get the snowmobiles going? Such a temperature.”

“We won’t be, can’t you hear, Vasya has already got them going, you just need good quality gasoline (subliminal advertising of Surgut gasoline from the SANGILEN+ gas station) and know how to start them. It is possible to get them going at -50C.”

On the way back, Mikele dressed himself more carefully, and he sat still and did not smile, and pulled everything that saw towards him. He even had two hats.

We arrived without adventures, if you don’t count changing the belt.

End. Train

Evening of the same day. My wife and I go to the gym and she asks:

“Did you see Mikele off?”

“No, he’s at some kind of meeting in Krasnoyarsk, he promised to call, OK, I’ll give him a call.”

“Buongiorno, ragazzo! Where are you?”

Sounds of a noisy crowd and something like the knock of wheels were audible.

“Roman, I have gone to Novosibirsk, I didn’t want to disturb you, from there I’m going straight on to Germany.”

“Why not? Are you running away?” I joked.

“How are you travelling? First class?”

“No, wait, I can’t hear, I’ll move to the corridor, it wasn’t was not first class, or second, he got the last ticket. There are three guys with me, they are drinking beer and eating fish (Mikele hates this smell) and farting,” Mikele finished sadly.

“Roman, I am standing in the corridor of the wagon, on me is a dark blue vest, and yellow letters a word, that which you gave me. Everyone asks what it is?”

“Oh!,” I explain, “it is the best company in Krasnoyarsk,” Mikele joked bitterly.

“I hug you, friend.”

“I hug you, too.”

P.S.

Special “thanks” to S7 airline which has delayed take-off from Moscow to Krasnoyarsk, giving me exactly enough time to write this story on my laptop in Shokoladnitsa cafe in which I “downed” four lattes and one pot of tea. But it’s probably true what they say: “Every cloud has a silver lining”.

3-4rd June 2009, Moscow

 

 

 

 

When i was about 19 Part 3

From the very beginning everything went worse than usual: the flight was moved, there was no money, the truck broke down, the driver disappeared on a drinking session, and as soon as he did leave, the suspension went.

 

They left at night and the heating froze. While defrosting, they caught a cold. The messenger with the money got lost. At last, the meat was collected and loaded into the truck, and it was due to be sent to the airport the next day. And at that moment when there was just a day before loading, the engine on the truck carrying the meat broke down.

 

We still had to get to Divnogorsk, to cut the meat, pack it, take it away, get the vet check and weigh it. There was no time to spare, but the truck with the meat had broken down and was still fifty kilometres away: how could it be repaired in freezing temperatures?

 

F*** me! The Japanese truck!

 

Why, oh why?

“Dima!”

“Imagine, Koren is on the crossing, the truck’s broken down.”

 

“We have boarding tomorrow?! And it looks like minus 30 and nothing’s going right!”

 

“Well, it happens, eh?”

 

“OK, quickly, we’ll take Vedeney and go to the crossing! Natasha, a thermos of tea!”

 

An hour passed. Balakhta crossing. -27C. There is our truck, windows clean, not misted over, what’s up? We drove up and approached the truck: silence, we pull open the door.

 

A smell struck our noses: maybe gas, maybe stuffy warm air, but Koren lay on the seat, and on a floor there was a burning kerosene lamp.

 

“Koren! Roman! Are you alive?” We shook the driver, but he slept deeply. My God, I hope he hasn’t been poisoned by fumes!

 

Roma was pulled out of the cabin and thrown face first in the snow, pulled out and his cheeks and forehead slapped (we simply didn’t know what to do in such cases).

 

“Hey, stop! What are you doing? Fascists! I hate you,” Koren come to his senses.

 

Vedeney was already looking at the engine. Roman was put in a foreign car and given tea.

 

“Valeryy, what have we got there?”

 

“Basically, the engine is fixable, but we need to get to town quickly! We’ll get spare parts and come back.”

 

“Dima, take our sweaters and remain with Koren, but don’t get poisoned by fumes, take it in turns to keep watch! I’ll be back in 3 hours.”

 

Damn, it’s already 14:30, we’ll be back at 17:00 at the earliest, and damn, how long will Valeryy be out in the freezing temperatures, not in the garage, and tomorrow’s boarding!? Right, Koren, it is good to be warm, get out! Valeryy, get going.

 

Divnogorsk, spare parts shop

 

While Valeryy was in the shop, I called the transportation department:

 

“Hello, it is Roman, is the flight tomorrow to Norilsk on schedule? No changes?”

 

“Hi Roma, don’t worry, the weather is fine, and the aircraft is already in Krasnoyarsk. Departure tomorrow at 15:00, you can come early as there is a lot of cargo this time.”

 

“Bugger! When you want… damn!”

 

Valeryy arrived:

 

“Got everything, now to my garage and away! Damn, I could eat a horse, I’ve had nothing since morning. Can we drop in somewhere?”

 

“Valeryy! We’ll eat at home, the boys are freezing their bits off, let’s go.”

 

17:30. Crossing

 

The snow-clearing machines had been and made a snow “detour” of our truck, so now it looked like it wasn’t on the road, but on the curb. Dima jumped in the road, and Roma, was apparently in the cabin. Valeryy, having dressed himself in two sweaters and two jackets dived into the engine.

 

“Koren, screw that off, Dima, you shine the torch here,” ordered Valeryy.

 

Damn, I thought, -27C outside, wind, and they are there with naked hands twisting something. I remembered something when I was 17, when I didn’t yet have a driving licence. I had a Moskvich 407 and always drove with a friend who did have a licence. And so, once in the winter when the car broke down, we took it to a service station where our familiar mechanic Sergey placed the car over an inspection pit, examined it from below, came up out of the hole and says:

 

“Take off the cardan.”

 

And he left.

 

Winter, a gate with cracks, in the garage it is a maximum of -15C, and with naked hands my friend and I removed the cardan. We froze to death When the mechanic arrived, I asked:

 

“Sergey, we are paying you money, why do we have to remove the cardan?

 

“Roma, you will thank me. You can’t tell the difference between the battery and the radiator.” [Thanks, Uncle Sergey].

 

“Dima, shine the torch straight! I can’t see anything!” swore Valeryy.

 

“The battery’s dead, what can I do?!”

 

“Koren! Ignition!” shouted Valeryy from under the bonnet.

Roma turned the key in the ignition and the starter tried to do something. Valeryy peered somewhere at the bottom of the engine.

 

“Damn, I can’t see a thing! Heck, has someone got a lighter?”

 

“Hold this,” Dima handed him a lighter.

 

Valeryy stretched a hand downwards and bent, as though trying to make out something and shouted:

 

“Koren, start up.”

 

Further, everything that happened was like a nightmare. Koren turned the ignition, and in a second from under the bonnet something flashed brightly and went out.

 

“Aaargh!” shouted Valeryy, keeping his hands on his eyes, and turning on the spot, bending and straightening. I jumped up to the truck.

 

“Roma, has burned his eyes!” Dima confusedly and agitatedly.

 

“Valeryy, quickly in the car! Dima, you’re with me, Koren, wait. We’ll go to the hospital in Balakhta!”

 

The car went downwards from the crossing, and there is a very long descent, it’s winter, but at least there’s no black ice. We went quickly, I nervously turned the steering wheel and Valeryy lay on the lowered seat, holding his hands over his eyes and groaning.

 

“Damn! Dima, what happened there?”

 

“How do I know, I just turned away, Valeryy told Koren to start up, so he did, something flashed, but his face was in there.”

 

“How far to Balakhta? Half an hour? No way. Valeryy, how are you?”

 

“OK, my face is burning, and it is as if a projector is shining in my eyes, it hurts.”

 

“Hang on there, Valeryy, we’re taking you to hospital.”

 

We arrived in Balakhta (village).

 

“Dima, do you know where the hospital is?”

 

“You taking the mick? This is my second time here in my life. Let’s ask people. Damn, what’s the time, I can’t see a thing?” It’s almost 7.

 

“Did you see a sign? One with a bed on.” No. We drive quickly through the village.

 

“Roma,” Valeryy tried to help, “I know where the hospital is, but there are rules, if you go by the rules, you have to go round, but if not, go past the no entry sign.”

 

OK, I see the no entry sign! We have turned through it and the traffic police where there. Damn! Not reducing speed, I drove to the building looking like a hospital. We took Valeryy into the hospital, leaving Dima to deal with the car with flashing lights which in 10 seconds arrived for us. While I sat and waited for Valeryy, the tiredness came on like 100 kg placed my shoulders. So many experiences today, as many as there were kilometres along the winter road and the BLOODY cargo, which won’t make it to Norilsk. Catastrophe! And the lost money because we paid for 4 tons! Nobody will return 100%, people I’ll let down, the boys who froze in vain, and Dad who needs to be repaid, Valeryy’s eyes. My God, I am so tired! Bastards, EVERYONE!

 

Dima came in with the traffic police.

 

“There’s the Director, and the welder is with the doctor, see the doctor to check,” Dima explained to the traffic policeman.

 

Brother, believe if you want, don’t if you don’t. You want to fine us? Fine us if you really want to, we don’t give a shit. Do what you want,” I said and turned away.

 

The traffic police officer probably saw my eyes, and… left. Thanks you, the ONLY normal guy in uniform.

 

Dima approached.

 

“Buggered! Roma, the time is 20:00, the truck is down, Valeryy is wounded, what repairs can happen?”

 

“Dima, lets go to the telegraph, eh? We’ll call Norilsk.

 

Valeryy came out.

 

“Well, what’s up?” we both asked.

 

“It’s ok, more frightening really, they smeared something smelly on me. Just glow worms wriggling. Let’s go.”

 

Balakhta Telegraph/Post Office

 

I called Norilsk.

 

“Volodya! Hi, valiant brother, listen, we’ve got a real situation, I cannot send the meat tomorrow, am I really letting you down?”

 

“Not too much, Roman, you can send it later, we’ll manage, we've got some reserve, listen, did you get the money back for the freight? Not at all?! What will you do?”

 

“I do not know, Volodya, can you give me an idea? Today I just cannot think.”

 

“Hm, hm, hm…” Volodya reflected. “You need to cover transport, so send something that is sold at Krasnoyarsk prices, plus air transport! Roma, take any food items. The main thing is that it weighs 4 tons! I’ll sell them, and you will get back the money for the flight.”

 

“Of course, why didn’t we think of that. Understood, Volodya, thanks!”

 

Second call to Tornado sports club. Divnogorsk.

 

“Hallo, who’s that?”

 

“Nastya? Alyona? Alyona, listen, who’s in a hall? Chip? Get to him to the phone!”

 

“Sergey, I do not know who, but send someone by car to the crossing, with warm things and food [Oh! By the way, we haven’t eaten all the day long! I just remembered], a couple of canisters of gasoline and away immediately! It could be that you need to guard the truck for a day or two, so take lots of petrol… Send Koren to Divnogorsk! OK, that’s all. We will be late.”

 

We travel back in the car in silence, I look at the road and want to sleep. And where will I get the money for 4 tons of products??? And when will I buy them? Also what should I do with a truck full of meat? Damn, I have to give money back to dad. He always said: “Sonny, first you work for your reputation, and then you work for yourself.” Great work. F***… and how much time left: just tonight only … we’re buggered.

 

Dark. We got to the crossing. Koren had set the spare wheel on fire so nobody crashed into the truck. Good fellow. Want sleep terribly.

 

“Boys, how’s Valeryy?” frozen Koren falls out of the cabin.

 

“Super duper, and you?”

 

“Frozen like peas, but that’s nothing, have you got anything to eat? There’s nothing in the truck, you were in the village, Valeryy looks like he’s stuffed himself.

 

I silently took Koren by the sleeve, took him to the doors of the truck, opened them and shouted:

 

“Koren, you have 4 tons of pork to eat. Have a barbeque! Bacon, or remove the rind! You’re staying...”

 

“Again?! Fascists, I’m completely bored sitting here! Also bloody frozen,” Koren howled.

 

“Koren, please, wait a bit, someone is coming to relieve you, and you can hitch hike back. Dima and I have to find 4 tons of products and the money for them.”

 

“OK, then a month’s holiday!” Koren has shouted. In his dreams.

 

“Roman, and what about the truck? It’ll soon need a residency permit.”

 

“Valeryy will recover it and tomorrow or the day after tomorrow will arrive with spare parts and repair it. Together you’ll drive it to town.”

 

8:00. Divnogorsk. Quay. Flight in 7 hours.

 

No money, no cargo. Good morning, Russia!

 

“Dima, come in, tea?”

 

“Yes, strong, plus matchsticks for eyes, what are we doing, boss?”

 

“Same as usual, getting shat upon, have you forgotten? How much money have you collected?” I asked Dima, who dropped by acquainted businessmen yesterday.

“Practically nothing, 12 thousand, 5 in the hall safe, plus 2 of my own, almost 20. And by the way, 12 thousand should be returned in three days, no choice.”

 

“Let’s go to Lys.”

 

“She’ll give it?”

 

“We’ll have to make her.”

 

Komsomolskaya street. Tatyana Lysenko’s house. Good woman, always helped.

 

“Who’s there?”

 

“Tanya, it’s me, Roman Goldman.”

 

“Roma, what the heck are you here for, I’m still asleep.”

 

“Open up, I need your help.”

 

“Hang on, I’ll my dressing gown on.”

 

“Hi.”
“Hi.”

 

“Tanya, I need money.”

 

“Are you taking the mick?! You still owe me ten dollars.”

 

“Tanya, that money working in another place, you’ll get your 10% a month. If necessary, we can get it and return it, but you said let it accrue.”

 

“OK, how many?”

 

“20,000 rubles.”

 

“Are you joking?! I bought leather, I sent all money to Turkey, I haven’t got any.”

 

“Tanya, 15%!”

 

“Alright, I’ll have a look. …Roma come here and write a receipt.”

 

We are travelling to Krasnoyarsk and we have 40 000 rubles. Dima calls a friend with a van and says where to meet, and we can get some taxi drivers with lorries, no problem.

 

“Hi, guys!” I greeted the fellows with whom I rented a warehouse when I was in sweets.

 

“Hi, Roma, long time, no see!”

 

“Can you help an old friend?”


“What do you need?”

“Everything: cheese, sour cream, sausage, sweets, everything, but discounted: money is dear. Dima, show what and how much, loading now.”

 

Dima began to choose.

 

“500 kg of cheaper cheese, then sausage…

 

In 10 minutes he comes back and speaks.

 

“Roma, imagine how much money we need for cheese if a ton costs 60,000? I’m not even going to talk about sausage, we need something else, it doesn’t matter, we just need to make up our kilos.”

 

Milk!

 

“Dima, off to Milk!”

 

“Precisely! 6 rubles a litre! 5 trucks to the airport and load.

 

“Hang on, by the time we get there, with all that bureaucracy, they might not have enough, let’s get it here, even if it is 10 kopeks more, eh?”

 

“OK, you left, me right, 2 tons each. It doesn’t matter if it is Milko or Artu. Hey boys, take back your cheesy cheese.”

 

At the airport everyone was surprised. Even at the scales.

 

A couple of guys whose life was milk came up to us.

 

“Guys, what’s this business? You were in meat? Milk is what we do.”

 

“Brothers, force majeur. First and last time. Don’t get in a state, it was a serious emergency. If you want, you can have it at state price, plus transport. No, as you wish. But really, it’s the last time.”

 

“Volodya?! Meet your consignment.”

 

“What is it?”

 

“Milk!”

 

“Bloody hell, what price?”

 

“Average 6.5, plus transport.”

 

“How much?”

 

“4 tons!”

 

“Thanks for the problem, alright, I’ll manage. Prepare meat.”

 

I went to bed, My God, good that ALL THIS has ended, Valeryy and Koren went for the truck, the milk got sold across Norilsk. OK, OK, sleep, sleep, and sleep... Tomorrow…

 

P.S.

 

I slept for a day as it turned out and Dima slept even longer.

 

But interesting thing was that all night I was dreaming that I was dragging a broken down truck to the airport!!! So the easiest way out was simple! Just stop ANY empty lorry and put the meat in it.

 

So we are IDIOTS! What was all that nonsense with milk and loans?

 

P.P.S

 

When this ill-fated meat was transported to the airport, on departure from Divnogorsk, Koren ran into a power line post and took it down, the bugger! For 2 hours we argued with the “owner” of the post. The truck lost half the cabin, but Koren all the same reached the airport and handed over the meat!

 

What a team! Greetings to you, Koren, in your boring Berlin!

 

Author: Roman Goldman

 

When i was about 19 Part 2

“My God! Thank you for those tests which you sent me at that time. Thank you, or I would not be who I am today.”

 

Problems rained down at once. We soon discovered that such a volume of meat in one village, even a large one, can only be collected once. We needed to search for and collect meat. I sent “messengers” in two machines to Shira. There was a thought to buy another truck. Now in our very much diverse business (sports hall, kebab house, saw timber, etc.) one more direction became firmly fixed: meat. Damn, I would still somehow have to find time to study.

 

“Dima, listen, who’s that guy with the dark blue knackered Japanese truck that brings us meat to the market every day? With a beard. I think there is a ton there,” I have asked my friend, group mate and business colleague Dima Gelemurzina. “Ah, yes! Let’s go to him. He’s at the market every day.”

 

“Roman, Dima’s here with some guy, sitting in the bar, go and see them.”

 

“Hiya!”

 

“And hello to you, too.”

 

“What’s your name?”

 

“Call me Beardy.”

 

“Where are you from?”

 

“From Dzhirim.”

 

“Where’s that?”

 

“On the way to Shira.”

 

“Cool, and you come from there every day?”

 

“Yes, so? I have a family to feed.”

 

“Basically, Beardy, I also have a family to feed, and I need 4 tons of meat a week. My acquaintances will buy it, you just have to say where to go, and you get a bonus. What do you think of that?”

 

“Possible, but not easy. Can your guys manage it?”

 

“We’ll see.”

 

Beardy turned out to be the guy required. We sent some consignments, and he practically became a member of the team and drove around villages, sometimes buying meat with his own money and helping my lads. Now we sent consignments every 5 days. But it was a strain and the boys flew in to Divnogorsk purely to get money, spend an hour with their girl-friends and back to the pigs again. By the way, also there were problems with money.

 

 

 

I called my father at work.

“Hi, dad.”

 

“Hi, son.”

 

“I want to talk to you this evening, what time’s convenient?”

 

“OK, drop by at 8.”

 

“Hi, mum,” I come home and hugged my mother who, to my shame, I saw not more often than once a month, and then I only came home not to visit, but because I needed something.”

 

“Hi, sonny, how are you? How’s the institute? Do you at least turn up?”

 

“Mum, later.”

 

I went into the lounge and sat on the sofa, and father sat in an armchair.

 

“Dad, I need money.”

 

Father sat in the armchair, silent and frowned at me.

 

Father continued to be silent.

 

“I am working with meat, but there’s not quite enough for the turnover, although it’s a firm business. Serious people. Help us.”

 

“How much?”

 

“40,000.”

 

A pause. Three minutes passed.

 

“You know, what that money is?”

 

“I know, it is our emergency money.”

 

“No, sonny, it is your mum’s and my emergency money. If something happens to it, God forbid…”

 

“I understand. Everything will be fine, believe me.”

 

“OK, you will take 40, and in a month you will return 42. Agreed?

 

“Thanks, dad.”

 

“Roman, Koren [my friend and truck driver] is calling from Dzhirim on the papyrus! [Then there were no cell phones, just SENAO and PAPYRUS phones with incredibly long aerials up to a meter long]. Come here!” the bargirl shouted towards my office.

 

“I’m listening, Koren, what’s up? You should have left already.”

“Boss, basically, this is it. The Novoselovo post are absolutely taking the mick, they’ve got us with this sanitary passport, each time it’s more expensive and we give more, and they ask us when we’re coming next to make sure it’s the right shift. What can we do? I have no money, it went on the meat.”

 

“What do you want me to do? Get a passport? We’d go crazy getting it! And the box should be made of stainless steel, but we’ve got iron! Or do you want me to agree something with the head of the traffic police? That would cost a fortune. What do you want from me? You should bring the cargo here, so bring it. Go to Beardy, he’ll have some options. Anyway, don’t whine and get moving as the cargo needs to be here by the day after tomorrow at 18:00.”

 

“Damn, maybe we should sheathe the box in stainless steel? But all the same we’ll have to pay bribes, and register it with the traffic police, damn it would cost as much as a new truck. Damn!”

 

A week passed.

 

“What does not kill us makes us stronger.”

 

Nietzsche

 

“With me you won’t get lost! But you will also climb mountains.”

 

A. Khodykin, Deputy Director General of Sangilen+

 

Day 1

 

10:00

 

Everything at once went tits up. Firstly, the cargo carriers called to say that for some reason the flight will take off not in 5 days, but in 4, and the next one will only be in two weeks’ time. And only yesterday we sent everyone off as all the boys had a rest, and the truck as usual needed repair. And then we found out that Beardy had no money at all, and there was no-one to take him any right now. And we need to take it today!

 

“Roma, stop stressing, I can get on a bus to Shira right now and get money to Beardy,” Denis (the one I got lost with in the taiga) offered.

 

“Denis, the bus does not go past Dzhirim. There are still *** kilometres to the turning!”

 

“Yes, I’ll hitchhike, don’t worry. You work here, there’s lots to do. Give me the money and I’m gone.”

 

“Dima! Take Denis to the station! Take Svetka [Sasha Svetkov], find Koren urgently and repair the truck! Give him everything he needs, if necessary, ask Vedeney, let will help. [Valeryy Vedeneyev: “our” master for all cars, and he even has a new year toast: “Let Goldman always give me his cars to repair!” He has it good, we have 2 old Moskviches, 2 foreign cars and a rubbish truck [so that’s how Valera could afford to decorate his apartment]. Departure is TODAY!”

 

“Beardy! Hi, my friend, how are you? I know, you already know. So, Denis has left with money for you, meet him and ring. Koren leaves tonight. Tomorrow morning, collect the meat! We have 2 days! Will you manage?”

 

“Roma, we have already bought everything here, how many consignments have been sent already, I need to go further. I won’t meet Denis, I shall go to the villages to get agreements, Denis, knows the way.”

 

“But he has load of MONEY! Meet him! He left on the bus.”

 

“Alright. Talk later.”

 

“Dima!” I called on the intercom.

 

“Yes, Roma!”

 

“How’s things?”

 

Basically, Koren is nowhere to be seen, he stayed out late. There is also no one at the trunk radio station. Svetok is waiting near the house in case Koren drives up. I found a driver, and together with Vedeney he is fixing the truck. They say it will take a couple of hours.”

 

“Who’s the driver?”

 

“Seems ok, although he stutters, but he is not working as an announcer, I’m here if required.”

 

“Dima, we’ve got to move quicker! Find Koren! We don’t know the driver, purely substitution, departure in the evening! Otherwise we won’t manage, Beardy has no meat and still doesn’t know where to get it, and it’s a day to get back, and we still have to cut and pack! Brother, get a move on!”

 

“Understood!”

 

“Chip! Hi! [my friend Sergey Chepurnoy, 180 kg weight lifting three times, nice guy]. You driving? You didn’t take Denis? Broken down, ok. Get to the market, find the cutter and tell him that this time the meat will be earlier so he doesn’t disappear anywhere. I shall speak to the games teacher about volunteers.”

 

I went to the ground floor of the school, where the games teacher’s room was. When the meat arrives, we’ll need many people at once to pack the bags as at the same time there will be the inspection and preparation of the truck for transit from Divnogorsk to Yemelyanovo airport, and all in all as a rule hour two! And during this time, Koren will have to wash or sleep somewhere.

 

“Hello, hi. Listen, Fyodorovich, in two days meat is arriving and we need people, can you help?”

 

“No problem, Roma! As if it’s the first time. How many? 10A will have games the, so I can send you, say, 5?”

 

“Make it 8. What do I owe you?”

 

“We can sort that out later.”

 

We, as a rule, gave schoolboys a packet of Marlboro, or a bottle of Heineken, even those who did not drink or smoke. It was better than any currency.

 

16:00

 

“Roman, the truck is ready! Koren is not here, they say he was seen drinking with someone in the square! I told everyone off. Well, what about the newcomer? Shall we instruct the driver?”

 

“Damn! How can we send a stranger? Well even if with send Dima too, that is one person down. Damn, Koren! I’ll kill the beast! ” I was actually angry at Koren unfairly, because recently EVERYONE worked to exhaustion! I slept for 4-5 hours and could not wear lenses. They say you need to sleep more and then the eyes rest, but I was better off in glasses. When you go home, you have four strong desires.

 

One is to stuff yourself! No, not just to eat, but to devour a fried chicken with crisp skin and salt, ketchup and fried potatoes: fantastic!

 

Another wish is to sleep! Like a child, to hug a clean pillowcase and sleep, sleep, sleep...

 

The third desire is a SHOWER! To stand under cool water and to forget about everything and just stand there.

 

Well, the fourth desire is definitely sex! You always come home to clean, delicate, nice smelling YOURS, and you want more than just to smell it.

 

Only for all this, there are only 4-5 hours, and each of these four desires struggle for the right to be the only one or the first. As a rule, only two won: a meal and a sleep, or a shower and sex, but never any different.

 

Here, Koren was simply tired, and nobody warned him of an urgent departure. But I’ll kill him for not answering his portable radio set!

 

Steps in the bar.

 

“Hello!” said a painfully familiar irritating sing-song voice, “What, have you lost Koren?”

 

“Koren! You bugger! Drunk! Natasha, get some strong tea and sausages immediately!”

 

“Basically Koren! Look at me, you have an hour to get to your senses! Drink plenty of tea, try to sleep an hour or so, departure is today!”

 

“Crazy! What the f***! Is that normal? Why can’t we have a drink? I came in thinking I shall take some money and pick up chicks, and there you go!”

 

Koren was actually more than little bit drunk. Never mind, he was tried and tested Koren. Let him sleep two hours.

 

“Natasha, make up a bed for Koren and wake him at six!”

 

18:05

 

Koren is sitting next to me and I am taking him to Vedeney at the garage on the quay where there is an available and filled truck. We accompany him past the post and then the road is long, he will have a sleep, then travel again, he’s used to it, done it before. The main thing is that Beardy gets the truck and he can drive himself.

 

Dima and I left, and were approaching the hydroelectric power station, behind Koren. And we see something dropped off or was torn off the truck, and the truck has sharply turned onto the curb!

 

“F***! It never rains, but it pours! What a day, huh? My God, did you see that?”

 

“What happened?” Koren was already under the truck.

 

“What’s up? We need new suspension!”

 

“Dima, what time is the shop open until?”

 

“Until 18:00,” it was almost 19:00.

 

“Basically, you find the director of the shop, I’ll go to Vedeney. By the way I forgot! Pick up Svetka, everyone will be sick of the sight of him. Remain on the radio.”

 

“Koren, leave the truck, come with me!”

 

Vedeney eventually recollected where to find suspension, Dima found the apartment of the shop owner, but he was not home and time was getting on. “Damn!”

 

“Roma! Listen, on the quay a dude lives, young, and he apparently has a truck,” recollected Vedeney.

 

“Do you know where he lives?”

 

“I don’t know, it was a while ago.”

 

Quickly to the quay! We’ll go past the houses. How do we search? Ask, ‘Have you got a truck in your court yard?’ OK, at least it is a short street.

 

“A Japanese truck! Guys, a truck!” We drove into a court yard, and there was a truck, in the snow, immediately obvious that it had been there for a long time, and nobody had driven in anywhere. Dima approached.

 

“In place!” Koren shouted, getting out from under the truck and shaking off the snow.

 

“Hang on, Koren, we cannot just take spare parts from someone else’s truck!”

 

“And why not? Tomorrow the shop will be open, you can buy a new one and give it to the owner, I’ll be quick, eh?”

 

“No-no, wait, some woman is watching from her balcony. Dima, get to it.”

 

Dima flew back in 2 minutes.

 

“Basically, she has already called the police, it’s her son’s truck, he’s in the institute, but will be back soon.”

 

“Listen, I think I know him and if he’s in the institute he’ll be on the 106 bus, but it would be an hour by the time he gets here! Let’s drive to the station!”

 

“What did you want guys?” the owner had appeared before we had time to drive off.

 

“Hey, bro, sell us the suspension.”

 

“No, I’m selling the whole thing, 25,000 I want.”

 

“We don’t need your truck, just the suspension! We’ll take it now and give you a new one tomorrow! And fix it!

 

The boy thought about it. It was obvious that if three foreign cars were parked around his truck, they would take the suspension and no one would know a thing…

 

“Take it! Only tomorrow put new suspension without any nonsense!”

 

“Thanks, bro!” Koren dived with Vedeney under the truck! “Eh, wait! Don’t leave! Your mother called the cops, can you explain to them what’s what?”

 

In an hour, Koren and Svetka (just in case, as Koren hadn’t sobered up at all) went past the post, and we drove ourselves to the sports hall.

 

21:00

 

I called Dzhirim.

 

“Beardy, Koren has left! How’s my little brother? Got there OK? Where’s Denis ? Sleeping? What do you mean, not arrived?! Where is he? You missed the bus? Dimwit! He’s got the money, and it’s winter! Get on the Abakan road! He’s there somewhere!”

 

“F***, Dima, Denis hasn’t got to Beardy. Should we go?”

 

“Roma, where to? At this time of night, where would we search? We’d better wait.”

Day 2

 

8:00

 

“Beardy!” I called from home to Dzhirim.

 

“Don’t shout! Denis walked here.”

 

“Walked?!”

 

“Walked! The bus broke down, arrived late at the fork and there were no cars to hitchhike. He came a bit of the way on a motorcycle with some guys, and the rest of the way on foot, and arrived in the night! Everything’s fine, he was just a bit cold.”

 

“Well. And where is Koren?”

 

“And I how do I know? I wanted to ask you that, I’ve got the meat, but it is scattered about. I’ll get off and collect it in a digger.”

 

“Koren, damn, where are you?” I worried.

 

8:10

 

A knock at the door.

 

“Who is it?”

 

“Me,” said Dima.

 

“Denis turned up?”

 

“Turned up, damn, on foot. Koren is not there, though. What have we got today?”
“Usual, 6 subjects. 2 organic chemistry, 2 analytical and strength materials. By the way, the dean has invited us for a private conversation, like why have we forgotten about our studies.”

 

“Hell’s bells, still need to go to university, alright, we shall finish it one day.” [It took 9 years!]

 

12:00

 

“Hello?” I have left on street and on mobile called in Dzhirim. [By the way, a mobile then cost about 2 000 dollars, and there was Maxxon device, I think, standard 450 NMT, I didn’t want to spend money on Benefon) “Denis, is that you? Where is Beardy?”

 

“Gone for meat.”

 

“Have Koren and Svetke arrived? STILL NOT YET??!!”

 

15:00

 

We drove to Divnogorsk, the PAPYRUS was picking up.

 

“Hello! Beardy? Koren’s where? Only just arrived?! What happened?”

 

Beardy has started to tell me:

 

“Roma and Sasha [Koren and Svetka] have stopped at night because the heater froze, and they barely got to Birusa. They got to a warm garage, stayed there for 4 hours and got warm, and somehow got here. Boss, this consignment is just all wrong: we haven’t even found all the meat. Alright, now the boys are here, we shall have supper now and to work.”

 

“Good, but bear in mind that tomorrow you must leave by lunchtime, even if it kills you! We still need to cut, pack and get it to the airport!”

 

“Depends on the truck, with those freezing temperatures.”

 

Day 3

 

17:00

 

Call from Dzhirim.

 

“Roman, in an hour Koren will leave, I took care of him. But Svetka and Denis will remain here as they have serious colds, coughing like TB patients they are. I’ll send them on later, or you can send someone.”

 

Day 4

 

8:00

 

I’m already in the hall when Dima arrived.

 

“Boss, everything’s ready to run, the cutter is here, the PE teacher is on the lookout, just waiting for Koren, chatting with the traffic police. As soon as Koren passes the post, he will call us from the hydroelectric power station.

 

10:00

 

“Damn! One day I’ll punch his face in, where is he?” I asked Dima.

 

“Maybe like last time?” Dima assumed.

 

Last time is when Koren has passed the post and tiredly, as he said, drunk a bottle of beer. We rang the post: Koren passed at 9:00, meet it! We waited for 30 minutes, 40, 50! It only takes 20 minutes! Going around all of Divnogorsk on foot takes 3 hours. Koren is not here! Well, hell’s bells, we went to look for him. We went along the whole road and he was nowhere to be seen! We drove to his home, and to Vedeney, and even to his girlfriend. Well, the moron wouldn’t take meat to his girlfriend! Where is he? We pass a factory kitchen, STOP!!! Directly opposite was a truck, our truck! We opened the door and Koren is asleep! What a man! Glasses on the steering wheel and sleeping!

 

12:00

 

Silence. Chip (Sergey Chepurnoy) arrived.
“Come on boss, pump some iron, it will calm you down.”
“Let’s go.”

 

13-00

 

Telephone call. The barman picked up.

 

“Tornado sports club?”

 

“Yes, who do you need?”

 

“Roman Goldman”

 

“Listening!” I grabbed the receiver. No, my nerves had not calmed down.

 

“I was well...” mumbled a voice in the receiver, “just travelling from Balakhta and I was asked to pass on basically...”

 

“Get on with it!”

 

“Your truck is on the crossing, the driver says the engine’s conked out...”

 

To be continued...

 

 

When i was about 19 Part 1

I was about 19 when instead of 6 rubles, the dollar began to cost 25, and to be fair, I did not think of how to make money on this, but how to repay my dollar loans.

 

A call from Norilsk. My old friend, Igor Kopkin was calling.

 

“Roman, I’ve got friends visiting, they have 3 meat plants and if previously a kilo of overseas meat cost 2 dollars, which was 12 rubles, now it’s 50! They need a reliable meat supplier.”

“Igor, I’ve never been involved in meat in my life! Without help I cannot distinguish lamb from pork, and by the time it sails into Norilsk, it will go off!”

 

“Roman! They know the difference between pork and lamb, and what do you mean ‘sails’? PLANES, my friend! Basically, my friend called Volodya will call you.”

 

“Hello, Roman? It’s Volodya Potribnyy referred by Igor. We need meat, pork, we’ll pay 24 rubles a kilo to Alykel airport (Norilsk). Cut into 6 parts. 50% advance payment.”

 

“Understood Volodya, give us a couple of days.”

 

It instantly became clear that local market meat is no longer available at that price, and we would collect a ton, maximum. So, first of all, transport.

 

“Hallo? Transport company? You do flights to Norilsk? Do you carry meat? Only in bags, no more than 50 kg and not less than 4 tons? Cool. And how far in advance do we have to make the application for transportation? A week. And an advance payment of 100%? Understood, fine. And how much per kilo? 6 rubles a kilo. Understood.”

 

“So, guys,” I gathered my employees, “Get to Balakhta, find out what the situation is. If required, I shall send a truck and money. The task: to collect 4 tons of pork and bring it here.”

 

“Hello, boss,” my travelling salesmen called. “There is meat, but winter has just begun. But we cannot collect such a quantity quickly, so now we’ll put advertisements everywhere, go through our contingent and in 3-4 days, we’ll begin ‘genocide’. Basically, give us the money, ceiling price. In a week we’ll be in Divnogorsk with a full truck.”

 

“Understood. Good chaps! And at what price are they selling? At 12? Great, pay 12. Fine!”

 

“Hello, Volodya? Greetings, my new northern friend, although going by your surname, you are a Ukrainian having a hard time in Norilsk. There is meat is, give me money, 40,000 minimum.”

 

“Hallo, transport company? When’s the plane?” I’d already started talking like them. “I want to charter 4 tons. Bring money? Well, I’ll bring it within the next few days,” At that time I knew little about clearing accounts, and it was also nicer to have it in your hands.

 

I received the money, paid 24,000 rubles for transport and, borrowing a bit of money, sent it together with a truck to Balakhta. So, I think we’ll work again and will work well together, we shall understand what’s what, and then we shall begin to earn 24,000 rubles (future profit) for the whole gang: not a large sum of money.

 

All this was an introduction, and the fairy tale was ahead:

 

“Hi, chief? We’ve got dead pigs, but nobody cuts them into 6, so we’ll get something done about cutting in Divnogorsk. We have bought exactly 4 tons and are leaving now.”

 

Divnogorsk, “Central” Market

 

“Hi, do you chop meat?”

 

“Isn’t that obvious?” responded the guy behind the meat counter in a blood-stained white apron, with meat and an axe in hand.

 

“Basically, there is work for an hour. Good money.

 

Divnogorsk, Comprehensive School No.2

 

Perhaps I should explain why in a school. The fact is that it was my first office. My friends and I rented a cellar in a school, chose the grounding, made repairs and constructed a gymnasium, all for the equivalent cost of a 3 room apartment in the centre of Krasnoyarsk with “European” quality repair. Of the money invested, 80% was borrowed.

 

Opposite our individual entrance to the sports hall was small field on which a truck was being unloaded of pork carcasses. There was plenty of work, the cutter chopping each pig into 6, and someone shoving the meat into Chinese sacks, while others drove away dogs and the “seniors” reported:

 

“Basically, we need to do something about the cops as in Balakhta and Divnogorsk they took a lot of money, and then there’s the sanitary passport for the truck. We had no idea and we hardly managed to talk ourselves out of it.”

 

“Alright, understood, boarding tomorrow 12 from Yemelyanovo, 4 am departure. I think we do not know half of the headaches.”

 

Yemelyanovo Airport, cargo terminal

 

“Whose truck is this? That’s meat? And where is the veterinary certificate?”

 

“??? From where? Where do you get one from?”

 

“Bugger off into that building, find the vet and bring me the document. Without the certificate, Norilsk won’t take it.”

 

Of course, nobody checked the meat. Well, not really: not the entire 4 tons, just some bags were checked at random and they were fine. With certificate in hand, we ran to the weigh station.

 

Weigh Station,/p>

The truck was weighed. The bags were taken out, then the truck was again, this time empty.

 

“So, net, gross... Total 3600 kilos,” the girl at the scales said.

 

“??! How much? What 3600? Weight it again! There were 4 tons! There were loads of bags! There should be 4100! I screwed up my eyebrows and looked at everyone.

 

“Boss, I swear, there were 4 tons, we even outweighed the collective farmers a little!

 

The truck was weighed again: 3600! The cargo inspector approached:

 

“So, lads, are you going to add 400 kg?”

 

“We have nothing to add.”

 

“Money for underweight is not returned. Oh! And what, are all your bags identical?!”

 

“Don’t understand,” I said, feeling some kind of dirty trick coming on.

 

“In this plane is not only your meat, those guys have brought some too, and the bags are the same, so label them or something, only quickly as loading is in half an hour!”

 

Damn, but for a while I forgot about the 400 kg shortfall and the money lost for air transport. Label the bags?! There are over a hundred of them! Damn. What could we do? And then I recollected that in my luggage was some recently bought dark blue adhesive tape. I can’t remember why I had bought it, but it simply solved a problem. And there were 4 of them. We tied the tops of the bags with dark blue adhesive tape quickly and noticeably.

 

The cargo departed for Norilsk. I rang Volodya so he could meet the meat. The flight was 2 and a half hours, by which time we would be back in Divnogorsk.

 

The thought about 400 kg troubled me, and the thing was not so much in the economy of business, but in the trust of the people sitting next to me. And then I remembered a friend.

 

“Ivan, hi, listen, you were involved with meat before, tell me what’s what, because I’m not up there.”

 

I told him how it was.

 

“Roma, your ruffian most likely bought fresh meat, i.e. when a pig has just been slaughtered. So, if you wait, the pig becomes lighter and the difference can be up to 7%. After cutting, you lose another 3-4 %.”

 

Frigging heck, what a business! I had already counted the profit, and there wasn’t much of it.

 

“Roman, greetings! It’s Volodya from Norilsk, we got the cargo ok, 3500 kg of pork.”

 

“How much? Volodya, what, 3500?”

 

 

 

“Volodya! Write down the surnames of the pilots! They have pilfered 100 kg of meat!”

 

“Roman, calm down, there was take-off/landing? Have you forgotten?”

 

“I did not know, educate me.”

 

“In take-off and landing, everything on a plane that contains water varies in weight. For all groups it varies, but for meat it is about 3%.

 

I just laughed.

 

“Alright, Volodya, the meat business is great, I have spent 72,000, plus fines and nerves and 8 days of work, and have received 84000.

 

“Roman, you did not try to deceive me, and I liked working with you. Do not be down, I shall pay you 28 for the next lot and will pay you 100% in advance. But I need 4 tons a week from you, consistently!”

 

“Agreed!”

 

It was just beginning...

 

Part 2

 

My God! Thank you for those tests which you sent me at that time. Thank you, or I would not be who I am today.

 

To be continued...

 

Author: Roman Goldman

 

Yaroslavl Paints

During my studies in Moscow, there was an amusing event. On arrival, we (30 directors and owners of businesses from all over Russia) were promised online business “battles” with colleagues from schools of Harvard, Wharton and INSEAD. A year of training passed, but nobody had been given the opportunity to prove to foreigners that we were the cleverest. We made our discontent about the deception known to the dean. Honestly, the majority of us were quite certain that we would thrash them! We were directors of leasing companies, bankers, the top people of Russian Aluminium, United Energy Systems of Russia, owners of plants, rivers and steamships. We were serious and successful people! And so, one evening after classes, at about 9 in the evening, a teacher comes up to us and says: “We accept your comments and shortly plan to carry out an online teleconference with representatives of a western business school. For a more successful performance, we suggest you prepare a little. Here is your case: Yaroslavl Paints. Prepare its solution for tomorrow morning, please!”

 

The case amounted to 100 pages, with figures and tables, and the successes and shortcomings, competitive wars and marketing miscalculations of the large Yaroslavl Paints company were described in detail. And at the end of the case, as usual, there was a list of questions of the type: “What should you do and how should you act in the complex situation in which the company management found itself in?” I admit, I only got home at 11 that evening and, having had supper, understood that I had absolutely no desire to “resolve the case”. And like a normal student, thinking that tomorrow is a new day, I went to bed. I acquainted myself with the case on the metro on the way to studies (the trip took 25 minutes), using the War and Peace method, looking through pages and snatching one sentence per page. And in class I supported the “case discussion” on the topic of what the group will do on Sunday.

 

The teacher came in.

 

Behind him were 2 assistants who started to distribute a completely new 60 page case on the tables! It bore the name “Chicago Towers”! The teacher said: “Forget about Yaroslavl Paints. Solve this task. You have 60 minutes...” We were taken aback by such a mean trick. But what could we do: we were indignant, but hastily started to study the new case.

Exactly an hour passed. The teacher comes in and asks:

 

“Well, future of Russia, what are your answers? On this topic?”

 

Here is a list of several “really effective” answers:

 

“Yes YOU are impertinent! All night long I read about Paints! There were 100 pages there, and here are just 60!

 

“I timed it. For thoughtful perusal of one page, 2 minutes are required. And in this case there are 60 pages! But answers also need to be prepared! This is not realistic!”

 

“You did not warn us, therefore we could not be well prepared...”

The teacher grinned and said:

 

“And you really wanted a teleconference with Harvard? Excuse me, but you are dorks, as they say... Yes, in the case there are really 60 pages. But in the group there are 30 people! Everyone should have read through just 2 pages and then to collect and discuss and take a common decision. And that was it! Who’s going to warn you in life? Say, now you sign a contract, but the partner then abandons you... Or you are rushing to the airport, and a voice suddenly says from above ‘Attention! Prepare yourself, as in 30 minutes there will be road accident and you will be late boarding the plane’ - there is none of that! You always operate in a situation with set of unknowns. And the correctness of the decision taken depends on your ingenuity only, so the motto is: ‘Be prepared!’”

 

P.S. There was no teleconference. That is a pity... :( Now we would definitely thrash them! :)

 

Author: Roman Goldman

 

 

Обновлено 17.11.2010 02:22