Tuesday, April 22, 2008

In Which I Talk to Strangers

How mortifying.

A very kind fellow, let's call him B, offered, a while ago, to take me shopping. I have only met B once or twice, in dark, smoky expat bars, but I have had something of a correspondence with him over other matters regarding life in Moscow. He's been helpful and has a good reputation.

So I thought nothing of taking him up on his offer, which involved him taking pity on me for having ruined the last of my T-Fal, no-stick, sauté pans.

The plan was for me to meet him in the parking lot of his building around 9:00 a.m. The stores open at 10:00, and Moscow traffic is serious enough that we needed to allow at least an hour to get to the shops (and this was with us going against most of the rush-hour traffic).

Let me flash forward a bit and tell you that the mission was ultimately successful, but that I returned at 3:00.

That's 1500 hours.

Six hours later.

Because of traffic.

But I digress. Back to the parking area behind B's building.

So there I am, loitering by the Dumpster as instructed. I send B an SMS saying I have arrived, and he replies that he will "be right down."

Shortly, I see coming toward me, with purpose, a man of the right age, looking vaguely as I recalled B to look (remember, I only met him once, maybe twice, and that was a while ago).

This B is carrying garbage bags in both hands, as well as a briefcase, and he smiles and nods at me. I fall into step with him saying, "Ah, yes. Never make a trip empty-handed, eh?" He smiles again, and says something, but B is Australian, and I still have trouble sometimes with an Aussie accent.

I keep following and chatting. "So. How are you? Do you think it's really going to snow tomorrow?"

Finally B stops and looks at me. "Entschuldigen," he says, contritely and in German. "Parlez-vous français?"

Do I speak French? Huh? But you're Aussie? What on earth are you talking about?

The light bulb goes off.

This is not B.

I have no idea who this patient man is. But he is not about to drive me to the Mega Mall this morning.

"You are not B." I say.

He nods. The crazy lady lurking by the Dumpster is finally getting it. He excuses himself.

I am not quite done laughing when he drives past me on his way out of the parking area. He rolls down the car window. "Bye!" he says.

Au revoir.

2 comments:

Luna said...

Too funny!! You seem to have a knack for mistaken identities. If I recall, you invited some irate person in for coffee, thinking it was your new Russian teacher.

I wonder what B.'s double to his wife when he got home that evening.

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