A Quick Moscow Tale

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Today, I had a plan to meet a girl from CouchSurfing.  We were supposed to meet at the center of Park Culturi metro station.  Problem is, there are two metro lines that run there.  So I made the best guess I could as to where I needed to be.

Another issue was that I was there half an hour early.  And the place where I was waiting had no chairs.  So on the floor, I sat.  Earlier, I had asked my host if I needed to bring my passport with me.  She said I should be fine with a copy.  I hoped she was right.

As I sat on the ground, people walked by and stared.  Obviously, this was not normal behavior in a Russian metro station.   I didn’t mind, until I saw a police officer.  I figured I should stand up to avoid trouble.  When he was out of eyeshot, I figured I’d be fine and sat back down.

After a while, the police officer came back.  I was still on the floor.  He saw me before I could stand up.  The grin on his face suggested I was going to be in big trouble.

He came over and said something in Russian.  I hoped he would walk away, so I didn’t have to show my foreigner-ness.  He didn’t walk away.  So I said that I didn’t understand Russian, in Russian.  And then I winced.  He pointed over in the distance and made a gesture for a bench.  I walked along with him in the bench’s direction, then stopped and asked, “Center?”  He looked at me with a look that suggested he understood why I was waiting and pointed back to where I was.

At that point, I thought, “Awww, that wasn’t bad at all.  Everyone makes suuuuch a big deal of them checking papers and everything, but it’s not a problem.  Hmmm, maybe he isn’t really a cop with real authority.”

I went back to my spot to wait.

A little later on, the police officer was standing with a short, dark man.  The short, dark man was showing the police officer something.  As the man walked toward me, I saw him putting away his passport.  It became quite obvious that he was asked for his papers.  So, believe it or not, being white seems to have some advantages.

Epilogue:  The girl I hung out with confirmed that the police officer was, in fact, a full-on police officer.  I saw him again as the girl and I went through the same station.  I waved, he waved back, slightly surprised.  We both smiled.

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