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Knights of the Vine RUSSIA


March of Time

Fred Flintstone

Shortly after light blue Japanese beauty disappeared, just 24 hours after we picked her up, we started planning our next Jetsons adventure. Fortunately, our old friend, the pomegranate pyaturka, was there to whiz us around to dealers. This time we settled on a Korean model, adorned with the emblem of one of Americas oldest automakers. It was clear from the prodana (sold) signs on the floor models that we were in for another wait. Oh well, we werent sure how long our special VIP insurance policy would take to pay. Back home in Bedrock, the Flintstones were surely the subject of an old fashioned office pool how long to get the pyaturka on the road after the accident (51 days), to get the Japanese car (72 days), drive it (24 hours). The next three pools were still open how long to collect theft insurance, pick up the keys to our US/Korea hybrid, and keep it.

We queued up for the sales clerk. You pay a $100 deposit and we order the car within two weeks, she stated. Once its ordered, it takes at least two months for the parts to arrive in Kaliningrad, to be assembled, and then delivered here. We signed between waiting for insurance and summer vacation, it would be just as well to take delivery in October. Well call you when we get the car ordered, the clerk said as we walked out with our contract.

The insurance company was one of the Big 3, with a desk at the dealer. Heres your VIP card, the insurance clerk stated when we had picked up our blue, handing us the dark maroon VIP card emblazoned in gold with the companys name. Its a special from our company; if something happens to your car, we have someone who takes care of everything. They come to you and you dont have to chase around for papers - he will do it. Hah, by this time we had made three trips to the militia and three to the insurance office and I had yet to see an insurance agent chase any papers.

Its day 38 since she disappeared. Sign here and give me you bank requisites, asked the insurance manager. Oh, its a plastic card account! Put the card number down also, and, as an afterthought, added, better write the three-digit security code from the back of the card. The wire will go out in about a week. A couple of days later I wake up in a cold sweat; why in hell did he need the security code, and for that matter the card number he has the bank requisites. Hes a manager in the financial industry and knows the dangers. That morning I bundled Wilma and Fred Jr. off to our bank.

Our bank is one institution in Moscow I feel good about. Its Italian owned, and the staff are well trained and courteous. We inquire about the situation, and my fears are confirmed with the code, the account could be emptied through Internet transactions. We immediately change the daily card limit to 100 rubles. When funds arrived at day 52,we show at the bank, increase the card limit to unlimited, and immediately withdraw the funds through the ATM. We close the account and open a new VISA account. And our US/Korean hybrid we returned from vacation last week, two months after we signed it still has not been ordered.

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