20 Apr

Yesterday, I was carded.

Well, that’s not entirely accurate since we do not have ID cards, but this was the first time I had to show proof of age in Russia. I pretty much thought that if you were old enough to make your way to the grocery store and had money you were welcome to buy whatever you wanted.

As the cashier finished with the customer in front of me and put her hand on the embarrassingly large, cheap bottle of beer at the front of my groceries, I could tell she was about to say something to me and it wasn’t to ask if I needed a bag. My mind immediately started to run through all of the possible scenarios:

  • Is she going to tell me the lane is now closed?
  • Did the computer suddenly break?
  • Is she going to tell me they do not sell beer on April 19th when it happens to fall on a Thursday?

I would not have been able to understand her if this was the case, but any of these would have been less surprising than “паспорт,” which sounds the same in Russian and English: passport. I’m not convinced that she actually bothered to figure out what my age was when I pulled out a U.S. passport, but we went through the motions anyway.

I was extremely relieved that it was something simple enough to take care of without too many hand gestures and confused looks. The grocery store is one of my “safe places.” It is a Russian environment that I can navigate well without speaking the language. It is very unsettling when there is a change to the routine such as when a register has a broken display, so I don’t know how much the total is, or the time when the cashier insisted that I pay for half my groceries before he would ring up the second half.

On the positive side, I have reached the age where it make me feel good when someone thinks I am younger than I actually am, so that was nice.

до свидания!

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