Did you move to Moscow for the adventure? Do you wish your life were more like an action blockbuster or the Enron musical instead of a boring office sitcom? Then grab your papki and put on your ninja boots, corporate minions - OMON is headed your way!
It was a typical dark and gloomy summer Moscow morning, gray like the kind of gray you'd see on the feathers of an old pigeon, gray like the face of the surly Coffee Bean barista who was apparently ignoring Nancy Deal's order for a 260-ruble double latte to-go. His indolence was the last thing Deal needed - she was already ten minutes late to the office. A double latte was the only thing that could sooth the pounding in her head and obliterate that old familiar figovo feeling from last night's nightcap.
"I said make that a double, on the double!"
But today scha meant I'm taking my sweet time, you stupid foreign broad, and you're gonna sit there and wait for it. Knowing that a barista never froths the milk while under customer-scrutiny, Nancy took a seat at the closest empty table and stared out the windows onto the street packed with filthy black Mercedes 600 SEs honking at one another in crazed desperation.
Suddenly - Nancy couldn't be sure if it was real or a vision, the kind of vision one has after licking a frog in a Nevada desert - an old babushka dressed to the granny nines in shabby valenki, three winter coats and a woolen scarf wrapped around her wrinkled face, stopped in front of the window and shook her cane at Nancy, denouncing her and spraying spittle against the grimy window pane.
As if rising from a fog, Nancy got up, collected her latte, slipped out of the cafe and into the dreary, overcast Moscow summer air and walked towards the office. The Kremlin glowed ahead in the distance, as a single ray of sun shone down from the heavens onto one of its golden domes. She flashed her propusk at the office building door, took the office keys and got on the elevator. It was the same as any other day, a day when Nancy would be the first in her department despite being 20 minutes late, a day when Nancy would spend at least another 20 to 40 minutes alone that morning, unencumbered by idle office banter, free to futz around on the Internet, a day when her coworker Tanya, with whom she shared the office, would sashay into the room one hour and 15 minutes late swinging a new leather pocketbook jauntily from her manicured hand, a thick album full of university photos and memorabilia tucked under her arm. Tanya had legs up to here, "here" meaning her hips, which were a little wide due to a previous case of childbirth.
"Hiyeeee Nancy!!! Today I brought my graduation pictures! Let's have some tea! You look nice today, but don't I look great?"
"Sure thing, Tanya. But look here. The boss wants that memo you promised yesterday. You're gonna hafta deliver, and fast."
Tanya put down her pocketbook and the photo album, sat down and applied powder before reaching instinctively for the phone.
"Hi Mama! So, what's up?..."
The boss, Kolya, burst through the door and into the room. Tanya managed a quick "Gottacallyoubacklater-OKloveyoubye-bye. Hiyeee Kolya!"
"Tanya I need that memo on my desk in two seconds."
The boss's door slammed shut.
Tanya began to peck out her memo while Nancy stared at her computer screen in despair, dreading the fact that another photo album experience loomed on the horizon, sure to be at least a two-hour affair packed full of sugary tea, cheap Russian chocolate and gratuitous information about the life and times of Tanya at her institute. But then something happened that changed everything. Suddenly this day was not a day like every other day at the office. Suddenly this became a day of doom much more frightening than Tanya's university photo album, even worse than that time she brought in her wedding pictures...