Monday (August 27): We had four interviews scheduled today. My roommate/landlady Aleks is also working as my translator, so the two of us were in a taxi by 9:30am. Although it was cloudy and cooler, the humidity was as strong as ever, and like most of my days here, I felt drenched with sweat.
Interviews were scheduled at the Ukrainian Down Syndrome Organisation's Early Development Center throughout the day. They're going extremely well. After the second interview, I realized that the recorder was about to die, and I hadn't brought the charger with me. The receptionist told us there was a technology store about a fifteen-minute walk away, and as we had 45 minutes until the next interview, we set out to find a charger that would work.
The store - Technopolis - was set in a mall nearby; I was struck by how new and clean and shiny everything was, more like an American mall than what I'd seen up to that point, but lacking much of the character I've come to appreciate about shopping here.
We walked in and at the information desk, Aleks asked the man and woman working there whether the store carried chargers that might fit the video camera. I opened the slot to show them the connection, they took a cursory look, and then waved us off towards the camera and phone section of the store as though they couldn't care less about what we were looking for.
It was a small store, so we browsed for just a moment, then saw what I might need inside a locked glass case. A salesman was talking to some customers a few feet away, and when he finished, Aleks went over and asked him if he could help us.
He said no.
It wasn't "I have to do such-and-such a thing first," there was no, "Let me find someone else to help you," it was a flat, "Nyet." Followed by, "Maybe in two minutes."
Aleks was speechless. So was I, when she told me what he said. We decided to wait for the two minutes and see what happened, and watched the salesman saunter down the aisle and chat with a female coworker. The two of them began walking our way, and then walked right past us without even a side glance.
At that point, I started to laugh. "Where are they going?" I asked. Aleks, sounding thoroughly frustrated, joked that they were heading for the back room for a romantic tryst. "I don't have time for that!" I replied.
We spotted another salesman two aisles over, and Aleks approached him for help. "That's not my department today," he said. "But let me see if I can find Anton. It's his area." He wandered aimlessly until he spotted Anton and his female coworker returning from their smoke break...private meeting...whatever it was. Salesman number two said a few quick words to Anton, who looked over his shoulder at us, shrugged, and went to work returning merchandise to the shelves.
We stood there, watching him about 15 feet away from us, scanning items and carrying them to their designated location. One. At. A. Time. By this time, I was suggesting we leave. We had been standing there for nearly ten of our 45 minutes, and I was thinking this guy should be pretty freaking happy I don't speak Russian. We decided to give it another minute or two.
About that time, a woman and a girl walked into Anton's area, straight over to the case where the e-readers were on display. You can probably guess what happened next.
Anton dropped what he was doing, and immediately began talking to them.
As we turned to walk out, both Aleks and I were glaring, and Aleks made a little hand gesture as if to say, "What the hell?" Anton shrugged his shoulders with an "I don't give a shit" look on his face, then turned back to his new - and likely more profitable - customers.
Fortunately, we found what I needed at a phone accessory store downstairs, and were quickly on our way back to the Center, laughing so hard we could barely breathe. We will be doing interviews at the Center the rest of the week. We're thinking of going back to Technopolis just to mess with Anton's head.