23. My last morning in Ekaterinburg, and some interesting insight into the souls of Russian traffic officers
I departed from Ekaterinburg Tuesday morning after five days of a very pleasant and memorable stay. The flight departs early morning at seven and scheduled to arrive also at seven in Moscow so I could “catch up” the missing two hours of my life that disappeared on my way to Ekaterinburg. Russia has eleven time zones.
On our way to the airport Elena was stopped for speeding, but luckily we left the city early enough to still in time for the flight. Elena spent a few minutes in the police car and came back with a broad smile. She told me the traffic officers did not give her a ticket because she gave them half of the “would be” fine in cash. She said if they followed the normal procedure of giving her a fine it could take quite a while to get the papers done, but she did not want to risk being late for the flight. Rather she “smiled to them broadly” and asked to finalize it without papers. She said if she were alone she would not have paid them a cent and still would have gotten away with her speeding because “she knew how to talk to traffic officers”. She said she never paid any fines (I guess they don’t have female traffic officers in Russia; that’s the reason).
It was a very emotional departure for both of us. We were sure that we were made for each other and that made my departure even more emotional. I don’t know which person usually suffers the most from such a departure, the one that stays behind or the one that is leaving. I think in our case it was me because I would still tour for another two weeks before I would return home. I would have had lots of time to think. Elena went back to work where she had a very busy schedule for the rest of the summer. I never asked her afterwards how good her concentration was, but I am pretty sure that her mind wandered from time to time. I was glad that I have visited her in her home city and until today it was a very memorable trip. I am confident that I have made the right decision at the right time.
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