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dave magee © 2013
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which I rarely prescribe to. Lindsay didn’t care that it was the wrong line other than the fact that the nationalist line had approximately twenty people in it and the line for the foreign traveler’s had a few hundred in transit. You are in a different country. sporting a bright white jump suit with red stripes starting from his neckline and extending down the outer length of his sleeves. Apparently our response was satisfactory because no sooner did we nod our heads in agreement. One person in particular stood out from those who accompanied us in the nationalist line. There weren’t many English signs in the airport as my colleague and I navigated our way to the border patrol for security clearance and passport verification. in an airport. her Scandinavian good looks helped her fit right in with the Russian culture. Czech Republic. we did not understand a single word. baring his hairy chest and a few gold necklaces. one for foreigners and one for Russian nationalists. looked down. and there is no going back until you move forward past security. Moscow is certainly a major market for investing in the Russian economy. we were committed to the Russian nationalist line. Those who have read my other short stories know that it is always advisable to have the address written down when traveling in a foreign county.Russian Coincidence? It was approximately midnight when we landed in Moscow. Greece. My travel com padre’ chose the Russian nationalist line. (“Google it” if you don’t know what I’m talking about. even if it is only to pass the time. Large cosmopolitan cities like Moscow tend to have a diversified group of people of different color. Unfortunately. and standing in line is usually good opportunity to observe people. and it is the hope of tapping into this economic giant which is the justification of our trip to Moscow. I always thought “border patrol” to be an unusual set of words particularly at an airport. He almost looked like a throw-back to the 1970’s and could have easily appeared as a bad guy in Starsky and Hutch or one of Huggy Bears informants. Together we simply agreed by nodding our heads and assuming it would be the appropriate gesture while nonverbally communicating back to the officer. I guess this decision falls in the category of the “ugly American traveling abroad”. and repeated this a few more times without saying a word. The security line split into two parts. Romania. He was a man slightly overweight in proportion. goofy looking guy. However. greasy haired. I was traveling with Lindsay. ethnicity and background. in fact all of the former dave magee ©2013 . The jump suit pants identically matched the white jacket and the red strips continued along both legs on the outer seam. Then she mumbled something in Russian. but let’s be honest. The zipper from his jacket was undone. This recommendation is even more important in certain countries such as China. did the officer stamp our passport page and let us through to baggage claim. I like to think that I blend into Russian society as well. When you arrive at an airport you are generally far passed any border to cross from whence you came. The border patrol officer looked up at us. far away from any familiar setting. Needless to say. where foreigners purposely pick the shorter line and claim ignorance upon arrival with the officer. a very tall blonde woman from my company.) Lindsay and I made our way up to the front of the line and handed over our passport and visas. I have often seen the reciprocal happen at US Customs in Newark Liberty airport. “Unique” would have been a polite word to describe this balding.
The smell of his Hai Karate cologne was oppressive and most certainly overwhelming as I adjusted my body weight over to my left foot in order to create some distance.Huggy followed in suit and stood behind me in line. grabbed our bags and headed for the front desk. It was an odd coincidence. “Your friend. we arrived at the hotel safely. She’s Russian?” “No. I told Lindsay I’d meet her for breakfast at 8:30 and off she went to the elevator leaving me with Huggy. The fare cost about four times what the hotel concierge indicated it would be. and then he spoke again. dave magee ©2013 .. I turned to Lindsay and said. I smiled and nodded my head in a gesture to say a nonverbal “hello”. but the highways and the main thoroughfares were packed.” and he paused for three or four long seconds as he creepily gawked at Lindsay walk away while addressing me in an air polluted conversation that would make the environmental quality of Mumbai India seem pleasant. fully expecting to arrive at our destination in approximately twenty minutes. We made eye contact. Looks like he followed us. A few minutes ticked by and suddenly.Russian Coincidence? Soviet blocked countries and most definitely Russia itself. it would have violently thrust backwards. Throughout our commute he explored numerous alternate routes. we’re American.” Lindsay smirked and stepped forward to speak with the reception clerk. Lindsay finished checking in with the front desk clerk. “Your friend. We arrived at the Marriott two hours later. not simply because of the deep throated pitch but also taking into consideration that Huggy probably had eaten an onion and garlic sandwich finished with a cheap cigar en’ route to the hotel There was an awkward moment of silence between Huggy and I. There was one person being helped already by the manager. It is also advisable to call the hotel in advance and ask them what you might expect to pay a taxi starting from the airport. Nonetheless. the man in the fancy white jump suite appeared in the turnstile. our assumption about traffic was completely discredited. it was just past 1:00am in Moscow. We didn’t argue with the driver. Surely there wouldn’t be any traffic on a Tuesday at this time.” he said.” “She looks Russian. We climbed into the cab and started our journey to the hotel. “Hey. “Hello” The volume and pitch of Huggy’s voice was something to be reckoned with and I swear if I had hair on the top of my head. there’s Huggy Bear. Obviously. And he responded vocally. so we patiently waited in turn. Huggy repeated himself. but we really didn’t think too much about it in that split moment of recognition. I have to give the driver recognition for trying. After all.
” And Huggy continued to add to the awkwardness. Granted. . Nice talking to you. I’m ahhh. I couldn’t help but think about the odd coincidence that he owned “two shopping malls” which just so happen to be from the two states that Lindsay and I originated from. “Where from?” he asked. Then I stepped forward to speak with the front desk clerk.” Once again. more than likely. particularly at 3:00am. . Colorado. attempting to cover up the insecurity I imagined with this unwanted dialogue. I thought more sincerely about this conundrum as I stood there waiting for my room key. . . but I’m sure you can figure out its meaning). Ok. “Yep. “I have shopping mall outside of Concord and one in Greely. . . but I instinctively borrowed a line from Will Ferrell. fully intending to use this timely exchange as the excuse to end the awkward moment with Huggy dave magee ©2013 . man in bright white jump suit “That’s shocking!” I said. Where?” “Where? Where what? What do you mean?” I responded more as statement rather than a question because I was completely confuzzled at Huggy’s inquisition (yes. “I’m from New Hampshire and Lin—“ I stopped myself from mentioning her full name. and she’s from Denver. and. I guess sarcasm is just part of my nature. . which I’m sure you never heard of. credit card and started processing my arrival. This man’s declaration truly was shocking. “I have shopping mall in New Hampshire and in Denver. I feared I was revealing too much personal information.” I don’t know what caused me to react in such a sarcastic manner following Huggy’s selfpromoting statement. . .I’m gonna check in here. “not too far away from Concord. He took my passport. arrogant.” Huggy said with a presumptive quality that would make most woman want to slap him. . “She’s tall like Russian. “Where you live in New Hampshire?” “Small town. We had traveled all that way to Moscow approximately eleven hours earlier. “. Huggy wanted to keep the conversation lively.Russian Coincidence? Just when I thought our brief interlude was over and I could check in to the hotel with the expectation of expediting my need for sleep. I know confuzzled isn’t a word. more specifically from the movie Elf. it was not a mere coincidence. While I stood there trying to uncomfortably ignore Huggy Bear. . I took the line out of context from the movie but applied it to the awkwardness of the uninvited conversation I was having with a strange ugly. .” I humbly offered personal information to this complete stranger who had no business asking me any question. “ And I tried to appease Huggy. very small town.
“What kind of business?” Now. I turned to Huggy Bear and said. What does jump suit Huggy Bear who owns a shopping mall in my home state.” Huggy reached into his pocket and I thought.” “What are you doing?” I said nervously.Russian Coincidence? Bear. and maybe Boris was a KGB agent? I was purely guessing. My mind was wandering aimlessly flip flopping from the immediate situation to the physical desire for sleep. “Why you here?” Now I’m freaking out a little bit. Huggy had nothing on me and I wasn’t going to be interrogated any longer! I’m an American dammit! Who is this guy in a clown like jump suit pushing my buttons at 3:14am anyway? Who does he think he is? I have rights! I’m a good person! I object to his objections! So. Huggy Boris Bear spoke again. like Boris. . There I was standing in the hotel lobby with Huggy Bear (aka Boris) having a conversation about shopping malls at 3:00am in a Moscow. “ dave magee ©2013 . Besides I was exhausted and truly needed some rest. Regrettably. “great I’m going to be arrested. Good night. So this is what a KGB interrogation would have felt like with sleep deprivation! I got my room key and made a careful and methodical turn toward the elevator. And thinking back to the border patrol. This was the second time I had visited Russia. I thought to myself. but I knew I had to end this conversation with some dignity and respect. Lindsay and I answered “yes” to some obscure question presented to us by the Russian speaking agent. Then again. I’m sure many of you will be surprised at my immediate reaction to Huggy’s last question. However. “Listen. You have a nice night and oh. “Listen. . by the way. I had not done anything wrong and I am always respectful of the country I’m visiting. . That trip was much more relaxed and carefree. speaking with a deep Russian accent care about my agenda in Moscow?!! “Business. I did what every self-respecting man would do in a situation like this. we had no idea what was being asked of us. I’m going to bed. Not that I had any previous experience. I didn’t go through the Russian nationalist line for passport control. maybe it might be advisable to throw caution in the wind and I considered that Huggy may actually have a real name. but maybe being nice to KGB agents would be a good thing.” Huggy persisted. I kept reminding myself that I had to be up in less than four hours to start my day and I really hadn’t slept in nearly twenty four hours. during the first visit. I don’t know why you are so interested in my life seeing as you don’t know me and I just want to get some sleep.
looked at the bed and collapsed with exhaustion. I had heard stories from people who had traveled to Russia and had similar encounters with local Russian nationalists. Huggy slowly pulled his hand out of his pocket concealing a mystery item.Russian Coincidence? I was just about to tell Huggy in a flipped response that I would never shop at his shopping mall and that I intended to drive an extra ten miles to Manchester just to avoid his mall. Have a good night. “What?” There was no more time to explain it to him. I will never know for sure if Huggy Bear was actually Boris the KGB agent checking on my status and verifying the information that I provided on my visa application was consistent.” I actually thought that I’d rather go to jail in the United States. Huggy opened his hands. I didn’t know what to do. I got to my room minutes later. “I’ll be damned if I buy a bright white jump suit with red strips running the length of my body at your shopping mall.” Huggy said graciously. Go. He is going to put hand cuffs on me and I’m going to jail. “this is it. Needless to say. I thought.” Huggy spread his arms out wide. dave magee ©2013 . My imagination overwhelmed even my feeble mind and the stereotypical Russian prison located somewhere on the frozen tundra of Siberia did cross my mind. “Coupons. I said a relieved and respectful ‘thank you’ to Huggy Bear. Big discount. even though I had absolutely no experience to draw from. I’m arrested. but the sarcasm wouldn’t leave my thought process. Shop. He stretched both hands toward me and smiled. looked down toward his attire and declared.
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