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Ofis Space December 4, 2007
Bye-Bye, Miss Russian Pie
The Ofis is now closed forever By Nancy Deal Browse author
Page 2 of 3

"My what?"

"Your obkhodnoi list."

"What's that? Walk-around-where-who?"

"You can't get your last pay without it. You'd better start now, everyone's going home soon. Here, I'll print you out a copy."

"What do I have to do?" I receive sheet of paper with a bunch of names and room numbers on it.

"Just go get their signatures, turn in your building pass, and then go get your money."

"Oh, OK! Be right back."

Yeah, right.

The departure clearance form looks deceptively simple. What it does not account for is the Homo Putinius Factor. Your last day is probably going to be a Friday, right? And what happens in Russia at most companies on Friday? Short day. Everyone leaves at four--or earlier, when no one's looking.

The race is on. Every time you approach one of the doors on your list you think: Big money! No whammies! No whammies! Stop!

Stop 1: have someone verify that you don't owe the company any money.

Stop 2: have someone verify that you don't have any of the company's property.

Stop 3: Whammy! Exit Interview.

The exit interview involves a stack of papers asking you things. The very last question is something like "State the reason for your departure." Easy, peasy. I write out "I have accepted another position at a different company," and I sign. The Stop 3 woman takes my pile of papers, looks through them, and then stops on the last line.

"This is the wrong answer," she says, pointing to my reason for departure.

"No, that's the right answer," I try to explain. "That's why I'm leaving."

"You can't leave for that reason."

"Well, what's a reason I can use, then?"



"Haven't you ever done this before?"

"Not in Russia."

"Oh, you're a foreigner. Well, here, write this: 'I am resigning upon my own initiative.'"

Apparently this is the only acceptable answer. Make sure to remember it.

Stop 4: Tech support: cancellation of your network access. Even though they will have cut your access days ago, when you still needed it, they have to officially sign off on it. But no matter when you go to get it signed, the right person is never around.

Stop 5: Remaining vacation day count-up. But Mrs. Stop 5 can't sign off until you get signatures 6 and 7. That's numerical order for you, Russian-style.

Stop 6: Give back your building pass. The room where the building passes are collected is located outside of the zone that requires a building pass. Essentially, once you hand it in, then you can't get back into the rest of the building to complete your list.

You try to explain to the guard at the door that you were just there, but he's not having any of it. So you have to call up and have another building pass ordered for you by your department and get someone to bring your passport down for proof that you are you.

Stop 4: Tech support. Still not there.

Stop 7: Something financial. They won't sign until you have signature 8.

Stop 8: The trudovaya knizhka, aka the work records booklet. This legal document is generally given exclusively to Russian citizens. Foreigners do not require these for any reason at all. But the people in the basement have never seen a foreigner before, and so do not realize this.

"I can't find your knizhka in our files."

"Oh, that's OK--I don't have one."

"How can you not have one?"

"I'm an American. We don't have Russian work records booklets, or any kind of work records booklets at all, for that matter."

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