On my 3rd tour of Russia, my friends at the Moscow HQ decided to reward me.
In the past, I had pretty much said I would take any baking scope, even the ones where angels feared to tread.
So on my last campaign they started me off at the University of Moscow Cooperation.
This facility is set up in the suburbs of Moscow, and attracts not only the brightest young minds that their country has to offer, but since it is part of the "Cooperation" program, you get intellectuals from across the globe attending here as well.
I've mentioned this in the past, but when you go anywhere on a "scope" the Russians will assign you an interpreter that always seems to be a young woman that looks stunning.
So much of what takes place in the Russian business culture is predicated on looks. Its a shoe in that candidates for positions have impressive college credentials, but one thing that many people don't know about the Motherland is the ratio of chicks to dudes has gotta be 3 to 1 or 4 to 1.
In America when you talk to people about losses their families suffered during the second world war, every 4th or 5th person might tell you of an Uncle or neighbor, but in Russia....EVERY SINGLE FAMILY took a hit and lost not just one, but multiple members.
Since WW2, Russia has been reported to be the slowing repopulating country on the planet.
When I did most of my work over there, it was during the Putin administration. He and his constituents set up incentive programs that would reward young Russian couples for having babies, I think they receaved something like 10K per kid.
Corperations are kind of a trip over there as well.
Most department heads are women, and here too, many of the promotions are not based exclusivly on merit...you have to be "HOT" as well.
I think it might of been General Electric that had a branch over there, and they produced calenders and sexy time billboards to promote their product lines.
Each month of the calender, it revealed a different scantily clad (if not naked) executive who used different light bulbs from the product line to cover her.....areas of shame LOL.
I shouldn't laugh because this appears to me to be exploitation, but at the same time....the woman over there don't seem to be bothered by this, in fact I will be as bold as to say they covet this position.
In many respects their sexuality has given them a position of power, laditude to have an impact on their own destiny.
So there I am at Moscow H.Q. and Irina (the woman who puts together the recruits with the interpreters) tells me that she is going to "attach me" to her favorite of all the guides.
The womans name was Nailiya
As I sat fidgeting in silence, I wondered what qualities would make somebody Irina's fave.
Moments later, a short women with skin 2 shades darker than olive literally limped into our presence.
This woman was far from the stereotypical knockout I had been accustomed to. In fact, she was pretty normal, just like the rest of us.
On the first day of our assignment Nailya prepped me by explaining her credentials.
She was a lawyer who lost faith in justice running it's natural course.
Several years prior an auto ran into her, crushing her leg, but since the drunkard who hit her was well connected in the "Mob" there was nothing she could do.
This outcome ate away at her, it infected her soul she told me.
Now when most interpreters get assigned to an American, typically they are only on the clock for 8 hours, but when the work is complete, my experience had always been that they loved to hit the town and make merry with their unique escort.
This wasn't the case with Nailiya.
In addition to being a little pissed off, and a little less glam than some of her collegues, there was one other thing that set her apart from the rest.
She was a Muslim.
For close to a decade she had been the voice for buisness professionals from across the world. This kid had been to the rodeo before.
Even my Klecko charm didn't seem to entice her all that much, to be honest...the girl was all about the paycheck.
So our first day we went from one lecture hall to the next. I wore a chef's jacket that had an American flag sewn on the arm, and sun glasses that Bono would have coveted.
I was pretty up to date with Russian hip hop, and their reality TV shows as well.
The cooler they thought I was.....the less impressed Nailiya became with me.
So our first day is complete. We are actually staying in a dorm instead of a hotel, and I'll bet it's only 4;30ish.
Nailiya takes me to my room and comes in to survey my accommodations.
I'm guessing she wants to make sure the space meets her requirements...not mine.
"Daniel, you have a bed as you can see, and an alarm clock. If you get hungry, go downstairs and the kitchen will prepare something for you to eat."
Then she left.
Dude, seriously, that was it, nothing else. just a bed and an alarm clock and 18 more hours before somebody would be forced to be my friend again.
So I went outside for like what....20 minutes? It was a college campus, people were in constant flux.
I stood amongst many.
I stood all alone, I hoped death would take me.
Now I go back into my room and pull a book out of my backpack. I think I read 6 minutes, but then I got pissed cuz I didn't want to read.
So I decided I was just going to sit in these spartan conditions for the next 17 hours. I wouldn't even try to fight it.
But God loves simple minds I think.
I'll bet I was only 10 minutes into my pouting rant, and all of a sudden....
At home, Klecko hates the unannounced drop in. Only 3 or 4 people have the swag to get away with that, but on this occasion, when I heard those knuckles bouncing off my sheet metal door....JOY-RAPTURE!
So I popped out of bed like a catcher when he's going to throwing out some guy stealing 2nd and fling my door open.
Sweet Jesus of the Omaha IHOP.....standing at my threshold were 2 smoking hot college girls.
I liked this.
Neither one of them could speak English, but they held up "Timothy" CD's. he was the top rapper in Russia at that period and I had talked about him during my presentation.
The girls moved efficiently enough, while the first one began pointing to photos on the CD cover, the second one slammed the door shut and both of my new friends sauntered across the room and made themselves comfortable on my bed.
OMG.....this was that dream that I used to have everyday in 8th grade study hall, and it was coming true.
When stuff like this happens, if you take time to figure out what should be done, you will most certainly make poor choices.
So just like Joesph with Potiphars wife, I turned tail and basically dove out of my room.
"Polish Christ, please let Nailiya be in her room."
I repeated this several times and lo and behold, she answered her door, but she had a look of being annoyed, as if she thought she made herself clear that she wasn't my "entertainment."
I told her exactlly what was taking place and then for the first time, she kinda cracked a smile.
Within seconds she dropped the hammer on those coeds with the might of a beast! Those 2 young ladies fled into a stairwell w/o even looking back.
"Daniel, it is not my business, but may I ask why you got me? Did you not want to have a situation with these women?"
That's when I explained to her that "Yes" I really did, but my wife on the other hand, she might have a different opinion on the matter.
From that moment on Nailiya liked me.
In fact she decided to leave her room and take me for a 4 or 5 hour walk.
We discussed many topics, but the one I remember the most is when she asked why so many Americans feel so compulsed to volunteer.
I was told this charactor trait is not typical at all in Russia.
I had never thought about that.
Volunteering just seems natural if you're an American I guess, but as we circled the duck pond specifically built for a series of high rise apartment complexes I gave the topic further consideration.
"I am not an expert on why people volunteer in my country more than yours, but if you forced me to come up with an immediate answer, I might say it's because the biggest difference between our 2 countries is that many people in America love God, and when this is the case, it is not uncommon to put the needs of others before your own."
Nailiya took my answer and put it into her thoughts, and for the next few minutes I could almost see her mind circling this idea, but eventually her interest seemed to fade.
The following moring as we made our 1/2 mile walk to the building we were supposed to report to, Nailiya walked slower than usual.
Neither of us had spoken much, I thought perhaps she didn't enjoy mornings so I just shifted my focus to the wild dog packs that lived on the campus, but then my guide asked if we could resume our conversation from the previous evening.
When I agreed, this is what she told me.
"I think you may be correct. As a Muslim, I know how important it is to have faith in God. Even if people have different God's, the world is a better place if people subscribe to some form of morality.
In Russia, our country used to love God, everybody did, but then the Communist's pushed this belief out of the people, or I guess you could say we as a country let them, but since we have turned out backs, many hardships have fallen on this country. It saddens me to tell you this, but sometimes I think that if we suffer through one more major crisis, we may lose God for good."
If you want my opinion......Nailiya the Muslim is w/o a doubt the most beautiful woman in all of Russia.