The subtleties are around, scattered around much of Ukrainian life. The lingering effects of communism and Soviet-thinking are there if one looks for them. Sometimes they are blindingly evident...such as the need to deregister and reregister addresses when you move. This was a way for the Soviets to keep track of where everyone was and to keep tabs on them. If one moved to a new location back in the cold war, this was done, along with a long approval process to move in the first place. To this day, when we have adopted, we have had to accomplish this task. Another such occurrence is the inability for anyone to make a decision or sign-off on something. Their reasoning is that "it is not allowed" or "my supervisor must do that" when indeed, it is their job to accomplish said task. Heaven forbid if the supervisor is out on a one or two week vacation. That kind of news can stall an adoption quicker than a jackrabbit on a date!
But that's not what I'm writing about today. We haven't experienced any of that on this adoption. All is going smoothly. So what has my dander up you may ask. Nothing really, I'm so thankful to God for helping us and to you for praying for us! I just have an observation to note during this, day 7 of our 10 day wait.
We're talking apples and oranges here! No, not the quip about differences. Really...apples and oranges. Perhaps this discussion will bring forth your observations of how Soviet-thinking still permeates Ukrainian culture. Perhaps we will get some funny comments as well. Sorry, I digress...here's my story.
Two days ago, I was in a well known supermarket here in Kherson. In the produce section of all grocery stores stands a lady next to a scale. You select the fruits or vegetables you want, then you put them in a bag and take them to the lady where she weighs them, puts a bar code with the price on them, and hands them back to you. To us, it seems a ridiculous task to have a person do this when in the US we all have it weighed and priced at the register. But OK, when in Rome! But what if you change your mind, what if you want more or less. What if! Enter my dilemna.
My first selection was Navel oranges. Not knowing why there was two prices on everything, I proceeded to the scale-lady (which she will be known as from this point) to get my selection priced. Once it was done, my young translator friend proceeded to explain to me that the lower price was if I bought 2 or more kilos of fruit. So, I opened the bag, ripped off the bar code and reached for another orange to put me over 2kg. Well, you would have thought I committed treason. Oh, the drama that ensued! Further ranting in Russian occurred when I used an unmanned scale to see if I was over 2kg! Thankfully, I wasn't arrested! But, I did catch the attention of everyone in the produce section. I was the "Stupid Americanski" who wasn't following the fruit rules!
My second selection, which brings me to the main focus of my story, involved some of the most beautiful apples I have ever seen in Ukraine. Now I admit, I'm an apple snob! My apples have to be "just so" for me to eat them. My favorite apples are the small Gala apples that taste like sugar and are so crisp that they snap when you bite into them! I prefer them chilled and fresh off the tree. I'm passionate about Gala apples! I won't eat any other apple! Also, I can't stand a mushy apple, you might as well have shoveled dirt in my mouth, yuck! So, when I saw these apples at the supermarket...in all their perfect "Felix-required" awesomeness, I had to have them! There they were, in the biggest pile right in the center of the produce section in all their splendor! Right next to this pile of beautiful apples was about 3kg of older bruised apples of the same type. I put my best of the best selections in the supermarket approved fruit bag and proceeded to scale-lady. What happened next was bewildering to me!
The produce crowd had dissipated due to the fact that they all wanted to get away from the "Stupid Americanski" without the knowledge of produce protocol. So it was just me and scale-lady. She said something, which of course, I didn't understand and I just stood there. Then she walked away! "Huh, what? Where are you going?" For five minutes I stood there, I think I scratched my head several times, checked out my apples due to the fact they must be full of worms or something, and waited for her to return. When she did, I received another scolding. Let me tell you, people were now avoiding me and the produce section like we were a nuclear reactor at Chernobyl. Just about that time, my translator friend showed back up and he proceeded to tell me the reason for all the angst.
They wouldn't sell the apples to me because they had not been priced by the person who set them out on the previous shift and they wanted the old apples sold first! "Huh, WHAT!!" Here, in the middle of the produce section, was the biggest pile of the most perfect apples ever seen and no one was buying them, because THEY WERE NOT PRICED and you want to SELL the 3kg of old apples first!! YOU'RE KIDDING ME RIGHT? Also, unless the market fluctuates drastically, aren't they the same price as the old apples? I stood there for another five minutes trying to reason with the thinking of scale-lady. I tried another five minutes to buy those apples to no avail. Visions of the soup Nazi from Seinfeld came to mind, "NO APPLES FOR YOU"!
To make matters worse, I went to the same store the next day (yesterday) in hopes of buying those beloved apples. Guess what, all but 5kg of the most ugly, bruised and spotted ones were gone. Seems word got out in the neighborhood that the apples had been priced and the "Stupid Americanski" had left! Last night I dreamt of dancing Gala apples laughing at me, they were singing, "Stupid Amercanski"!