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Knights of the Vine RUSSIA


Pechatniki Part 2
By Fred Flintstone
Picture by Vladimir Romanov

When last we saw Fred, he was outside the Pechatniki Gorodskaya Sluzhba Peremshcheniya Trasportnikh Sredstv (City Service for Towed Vehicles), a building in SE Moscow, having established his place in line. To establish his place in the ocherad (line) he shouted the customary kto poslednyi (whos the last) upon arrival.

About fourty people stood near the door to the small room with five windows, two operational, where the papers were processed to give permission to proceed to the spets-stoyanka (special parking lot) where his beloved Silver Streak sat impounded. People gathered in small groups in the yard, smoking, sometimes off to the Port-a- Potty, or the kiosk for a beer, Snickers, or shashlik.

Two hours later and sick of staring at the iPod, Fred ventured in to see how things were proceeding. By this time his queue neighbors were nearer the door. Then the windows slammed closed break time, fifteen minutes. One hour later the windows opened. At this stage, Fred has been waiting more than three hours.

At the end of hour four, most of Freds queue mates are inside. A gate-crasher shows up, invoking the fury of the crowd. For some reason, there has now been a breakdown in the queue. Does the line separate to different windows or all take their turn at the next available? One member decides to take charge beginning to supervise. Another asks who the hell he thinks he is and sides are taken in the crowd. After some sharp banter, the gatekeeper and the will of the crowd to establish order wins out. In the process, more is learned about the personalities of the queue mates.

The end is in sight; Freds neighbors start to get processed, and fi nally at 20:06, five hours and twenty-six minutes after arrival, hes at the window presenting his drivers license with notarized translation, vehicle registration documents and the doverenost (power of attorney). The clerk is not sure about the doverenost, since it is somewhat unusual; he had to download the form off the Internet. After some discussion its OKd.

At 20:30, after admitting his guilt (otherwise come back in two weeks), Fred is cleared with documents to pick up the car, including a bank form to pay the 300 ruble fine. There are two ATMs in the lobby to pay, but Fred learns that entry of a Russian drivers license number is necessary. Fred has thirty days to pay by bank transfer from Sberbank, and to send the receipt by registered mail.

Its off to the spets-stoyanka, in far SW Moscow near the Ochakovo beer factory. First a hike back to the bus stop, a bus trip to the Metro, and after line changes, to the nearest metro at the spetsstoyanka, and then another long bus trip down the dark industrial road to the end of the line. Another short hike towards distant car lights and another line emerges from the dark at the <>emspets-stoyanka, a huge lot. It is now 22:15.

Fred learns that he is in for another wait, albeit shorter. Some of his queue mates are already there, having arrived by cars with kind friends. Then the bad news; since the Silver Streak has already been there for more than 24 hours, theres a 40 ruble per hour fee. The worse news; the fee has to be paid before the car can be picked up, and the only place open to pay at this time of night is at Vnukovo airport.

At this point Fred gave in to the obvious. Fifteen minutes later he was out the gate in the Silver Streak.

Epilogue: A few days later, he hears a similar story from another Bedrock expat. This expat got to the Pechatniki metro station and hunted for a taxi. The taxi driver took care of everything including the ride for 3,000 rubles, and he was off to Ochakovo in half an hour.

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