I have written maybe twice about the hoorendous service standarts that we receive (and unfortunately got used to) in Moscow.
Although the transition from homo sovieticus, who was raised in a system where the seller (aka The State) was always right, to the homo kapitalismus-extremus, where the customer has a right to expect a decent service to the level that he is paying, has been told to be completed in Moscow in a breakneck speed of 15 years already, it is still widespread and easy to witness the sporadic occurances of the soviet rust on the service sector...everywhere from luxury eateries to kiosks in the neighborhood.
Last weekend, some friends of mine arrived for a business-leisure trip for 4 days to Moscow and I had taken them out for a tour of the dark-side of Moscow (it is another blog entry to come) and when I wanted to buy some refreshments from a nearby kiosk, I was thwarted by a grim-faced seller in her late 40s.
She looked at me as if I have come with a bloody club in my hands to rob her pathetic kiosk that served fried meatpies and other stuff that seriously harms human digestive system. As she was counting a bunch of dirty and wrinkled 10 rouble notes, she didn't really pay attention to me or the two guys inj a near beer-crisis. After 3 minutes of painful waiting (because of the smell coming from the kiosk where they theoratically cook the food they serve and also live there) she yelled "What do you want?". "A Red Ice tea" I replied while trying to open the big refrigerator (that kiosks place on the street and put an electronic lock that is activated from the inside...because the kiosks are so small to stuff all the beers inside). She said "What? We don't have that stuff" while I was pointing a Lipton Red (Ice) Tea with my finger to the dirty and moist refrigerator glass door. After a couple of Russian slang that I couldn't (hopefully) understand, she ordered me to open the door and take whatever Red thing I wanted and show it to her so that she can tell the price.
When I took the Red tea, she became furious and replied back in anger "You fool! It is not Red Ice tea...it is Red Tea!"...Normally I would throw that bottle on the floor and move away but strangly I wanted to contribute to her pathetic knowledge of her product portfolio."This is an Icea Tea...this is tea, it is red and it is cold. That's why you keep it in the refrigerator" (Shame on my improving Russian abilities that I can now engage in more detailed conversations with Russians...I sense that the trouble is near). She looked at me as if I was a brand manager at Unilever HQ since I knew such an insiders' knowledge about Lipton Ice Tea's...but then she yelled the price back "35 Roubles!" while she puffed from her cheap cigarette as if she wanted to hide her hideous face behind the smokescreen (which I wanted her to succeed). I threw 35 roubles from the narrow opening that the kiosk owners use to communicate with their beloved customers and moved on with my usual mood after being served in Russia.