Cliff Gardner

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I hate the post office

I hate the post office more than anything else in Ukraine. Really, I can tolerate pretty much everything else, but the Post Office is the one place that makes me really freak out. What happened to me today is a great example of why I feel this way. So, my parents sent me a package about 6 weeks ago, and since it usually takes about 3-4 weeks for a package to get here, and since I had been away from Ochakiv for a week, I KNEW it was there. So, I wasn't surprised when I found a little note in my box telling me to come pick up my package. HOWEVER, when I went to get it, after waiting in line for 40 minutes, the lady looked around, said she couldn't find it, and when I asked her to check again, she told me to go ask another lady who works with letters.

That new woman did find my Presidential Election ballot (though I already got another one in Kiev and mailed it off, GO BARACK!) and another small envelope of articles/letters from home (which, for some reason, they didn't put in my box), but not my package. I asked her if I could look back where the packages where myself because I was convinced that it was there and the woman was just missing it, and she told me to go ask her since it wasn't get department (who knew the post office was so departmentalized?!). So, after standing in line for another half-hour, I asked the lady at the package desk if I could come back and look, and she said "Nelzya Zahdidtya," or "don't come in," but I pretended I only heard "zahaditya," or "come in," and went through a door and around the counter anyway.

She told me, in Russian, that she said specifically not to come in, and I said that I just wanted to look for a minute to see if I had my package. She said no, and I said please repeatedly in my most wining, annoying voice, all the while forcing myself between her and the back room. Once there, it took about .0009 seconds for me to spot my giant package lying on top of all the other packages, with my name printed in big, clear letters in Russian and English on a bright neon-pink address label (thanks dad!). Just as she was about to shove me outside again and/or call for help, I shouted "ETA YA! VOT ETA, MIYA PASILKA! TAM! TAM!" (This is me! This one, my package!! There! There!). The lady, comparing the name in my passport to the name on the package, was forced to admit that she messed up and had (somehow) overlooked this monstrosity of a package taking up 1/3rd of her back room full of packages. She was mildly apologetic for the mix-up. After signing some things, I now have a package--the last one I'll get from home--full of delicious food and wonderful newspaper articles.

In hindsight, I have some thoughts.

1. I'm very lucky to have gotten EVERY SINGLE ONE of the packages my parents and everyone else has sent me. Most Peace Corps Volunteers are not that lucky. Jessica, for example, has gotten less than half of the stuff her parents have sent her. I'm also lucky to have such amazing, loving, kind-hearted parents who have sent me over a dozen packages that have made my life in Ukraine a lot easier. My parents are seriously the best in the world.

2. Sometimes it pays to be pushy and slightly rude when you know you're in the right.

3. I hate the post office.

Moving on up (or down?), moving on out...

I just moved back in with a host family. The Pro's:

--They're really nice
--It's across from my school so I don't have to walk 30 minutes in the morning and I can sleep in
--It's right by the good internet cafe that's open late so I'll have regular internet access

The Con's:

--They have an out-house
--My room doesn't have a light, only a lamp
--Did I mention the out-house?

Whatever, I only need to deal with it for 28 more days. I love you all and I'll see you soon!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Straight out of Fight Club

I'm in Kiev doing some final close-of-service medical appointments for a few days, and yesterday I got a call from my regional manager. He told me that there was a huge gas explosion in my landlord's apartment building, one floor below where he and his wife live. Sadly, one person was killed. That also means that my landlord will be moving into my apartment for the last month of my service, and I'll be moving...someplace. Right now it's looking like I'll either stay with the family of one of my 10A students, Sasha, or in a hotel. Still, I'm only here for about a month more, so it won't be too bad. It's just a shame that my great luck with apartments had to end so close to my being done here, and in such a sad and horrific way. See you soon!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Counting it down!

Less than 40 days left...I'm really excited to come home, and kind of sad to leave. Lately I've been:

A) Getting a new toilet--I was without one for 3 days. DON'T ASK.
B) Watching the Boston Red Sox from here in my first post-season as a Sox fan, and wearing my Sox hat all around Ochakiv.
C) Teaching an ADORABLE group of 5th graders who love life and my lessons.
D) Making plans for back home.
E) Lamenting the recent rash of injuries that hit the Portland Trailblazers.
F) Obsessively looking at polls on

Miss you all, see you soon!