From the old notes off the cuff…
It’s winter in Moscow. I haven’t been in Russia for over 20 years.
We are drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes in a small and cozy coffee shop in the downtown area.
I know that my companion across the table doesn’t think much of Americans. Perhaps, deep inside he even calls me “pindos”, latest Russian derogatory slang for Americans.
I might be a “pindos” in his view but I still speak a flawless Russian and we grew up in the same town.
It’s interesting to listen to him. He is a big wig in Moscow police. Kind of a Russian style mix of Inspector Columbo and Commissaire Maigrett.
I call him Deputy. Deputy Police Commissioner…
The ice between us is slowly melting. We are about the same age. We are remembering places and thing from our past. It is nostalgic.
– I like you, buddy. Here is my business card. If in trouble, call me.
He hands me his card.
– Thank you but I live far away. I doubt that you’ll be able to help me in Boston.
– Ha… You are mistaken, bud. We have long arms. We can help everywhere.
He takes a long and deep puff of his cigarette. He is truly sincere.
– There are not too many of us, Russians, in this world. We ought to help each other.
– Thanks. Here is my card too. If you are ever in Boston, please get in touch with me, – I am trying to shift our conversation into a neutral direction. – Have you been in America?
– Yes. In Washington and Norfolk.
– Awesome. Visiting friends?
– No, – he makes a short pause . – It was a business trip. With the Interpol.
– Really? And what are your impressions of American police?
He looks at me with a mysterious smile:
– How should I put it?.. It ain’t serious at all. Your police is a joke.
I look at him with a poorly hidden surprise.
– Listen, you guys have too much democracy. Rights. Lawyers. It’s easy here. Punch him in the face and get it over with
He shows me how to do a punch. His fist swings two inches from my nose.
– Impressive… What about the law? What if he sues you?
– What about the law? You don’t understand. What law? I am the law!
I feel a little awkward. Seems like I can’t grasp elementary things in his logic.
– What about presumption of innocence? – I probably sound like a college boy in his view.
– Presumption of what? What are you talking about, Art? This is the lowest scum on earth. This is the only thing he understands.
I guess I am a “pindos”. I don’t follow him. I tell him a story about a friend in Boston. His bike was stolen from his driveway next to his home.
– They still didn’t catch the thieves in America. They would have caught them here in Russia.
– Ha. I have to disappoint you, bud. Nowadays, we would have not caught them either. Ха. They would have been caught in the 1990s. Not now. My best buddy’s car was stolen in 1993. He came to me. We called the criminal authorities. In two hours they brought the car back. And there was an envelope with money on the front seat – “our aplogies, we made a mistake”. Now, it is different.
– What about common folks? Are they totally unprotected by law? Where would they go for help to?
– You are right, buddy. Common folks are unprotected.
– It’s a shame.
– I know. It’s a shame.
We are finishing our coffee break and separate almost like old friends.
We grew up in the same town. We have alot to remember from the past.