Russian lifts and the idiots who wreck them

So, we’ve moved into our new apartment in the centre of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, and all we are waiting for now is for the landlady to install a new wardrobe to replace the five pieces of chipboard hastily banged together in China and poorly veneered in tasteless dark brown plastic which she tried to hoodwink us into accepting as fit to do the same job.  Plus I need to get my ADSL connection sorted out sharpish, but other than that we are pretty much there.

Our apartment is on the eight floor of a nine storey block, which means we have the luxury of a lift.  Unfortunately, the lift is tiny and jerks its way between the floors with a noise which sounds as though somebody has replaced the ball bearings with gravel for a laugh.  More unfortunately, the lift stops working after 10pm, which is pretty much standard in Russian apartment blocks, presumably because the bloke you call when you find yourself stuck between the floors knocks off around that time.  However, of the three occasions I have thus far had to clamber up the stairs, on two of them I was completely plastered and hence didn’t really notice the effort involved. 

And most unfortunately of all, the lift – as with the lower sections of the communal stairwell – stinks to high heaven.  I think somebody died in the lift a few months back and spent the time since decomposing gently until somebody hauled him out.  But there is room to be grateful, and that is for the fact that unlike many Russian lifts in apartment blocks, only a few of the buttons have been melted beyond recognition and even these are perfectly useable.  Many a lift have I got in to find all the buttons melted so you have no idea which one to press and half of them out of action altogether.  One I remember in Moscow was so badly damaged you had to stick your fingers in the charred holes and poke around amongst the contacts.

For there is a rather odd hobby amongst degenerate Russian youths which is melting stuff in lifts.  Now I can understand that the exuberance of youth exacerbated by a bottle or five of vodka may lead a gang of said reprobates to torch a car, a rubbish bin, or even a warehouse.  But I cannot for the life of me understand why the hell anyone would melt the controls of a lift when they are still inside the damned thing.  Reports abound that the life expectancy of a Russian male is depressingly low, and the figures are usually attributed to the harsh climate, abundance of vodka, and the unwavering demands of their wives (okay, I made the last one up).  But to my knowledge nobody has yet to consider the utter stupidity of some of their number in perhaps bringing this statistic to a level several notches lower than it otherwise needs to be.  Maybe one day someone will.

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8 Responses to Russian lifts and the idiots who wreck them

  1. W. Shedd says:

    My wife has tried to explain to me this Russian male phenomenon of doing stupid risky things. Apparently it has some social cache (i.e. – it is cool) to perform fool-hardy deeds and live to tell about it. I’ve witnessed similar behavior among sk8tr-types or Jack-Ass wannabes here in the US. And consider that as cool as parkour looks, the practioners must get their heads knocked in regularly until they’ve perfected their craft.

    I am sure you could make a whole study of its effects on the human genome. Generally, I would consider it to have long-term benefits to the homo sapien gene-pool. But the evidence seems to be that young chicks dig guys who do really stupid risky acts. Plus such types often reproduce without consideration for the support of their family.

  2. Anna says:

    Talking of Russian genome: the best species were meticulously eliminated under Lenin and Stalin.
    Heavy alcoholism (self-trestment for depression, most probably) destroyed remainder of decent genetic material.
    And then in 70s brain drain started and continues even now to some degree.
    Anna

  3. dearieme says:

    “the bloke you call when you find yourself stuck between the floors”; the lift-winder?

  4. Tatyana says:

    W.Shedd, but doing stupid risky things is incredibly romantic!

  5. W. Shedd says:

    Yes, I suppose it is when you are 16. :-)

    Gleb: “Irka, look at me! AHHHHHHHH! *SPLAT!*”
    Irka: “Gleb was so sweet, before he fell off that balconey. Now he is very similar to a blin …”

    Hope I don’t come across too harsh, teenagers and young men can do some pretty fool-hardy things here too. I’ve witnessed guys here trying to “surf” standing on a surfboard strapped to the roof of a moving car before. Works great until the car stops.

  6. Tatyana says:

    In similar vein, I recall the TV clip for America funniest videos where a girl of approx. 18 yo displayed her shaven head with the words “Hi, MOM!” tatooed on the back.
    And the ultimate example: Tom Green. Nuf said.

  7. Venichka says:

    Ah, yes, this brings back some memories for me, too.
    And I’ve not yet encountered the “button-melting” thing in even the roughest tower blocks I’ve been in in various unlovely parts of London.

    One thing I must take issue with, however, – “the bloke you call when you find yourself stuck between the floors”

    In Odessa, it was generally not a bloke, but a babushka with a shovel

  8. Jim says:

    Wow, your lift sounds even worse than most of them I’ve seen in Russia. I have seen the melted button thing, but always thought it was due to a bad design in the lift where the light behind the button overheats. But, come to think of it, there are no lights behind the buttons in lifts in Russia! Thanks for shedding some light on one little mystery of life in Russia ;)

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