Published: November 1st 2007October 25th 2007
It all started as a fairly normal day. Mike and I had Russian conversation, Russian grammar, and then lunch. After lunch, we went to Tatar class and worked on conditionals. We then proceeded to McDonald’s for some of their awesome eight-ruble ice cream cones. We happened to see Aygul and Dilyara there and hung out with them for a while before going to the group-sing. There is a teacher at the university who holds a free singing group for foreign students every Thursday. We sit together, she plays the guitar, and we sing along to Russian folk and other famous songs. Following the singing, Trevor, Élan, Mike, Ian and I went to my house to pick up my laptop so we could watch a movie later. We stopped by the grocery on the way to Trevor’s and bought some things for dinner.
At Trevor’s house, Élan and I started making dinner while the boys hung out. Once we finished, we all dug in to shrimp pasta while we started watching V for Vendetta. When the movie ended, Ian, Mike and I left. Ian guided us to the main road, and Mike and I headed out to the Metro. On the way, three girls asked us if we were from America. We said yes, and started talking to Lena, Alyona, and Albina. Two of them spoke English, and we asked them if they wanted to come to our English discussion group on Tuesdays. We exchanged phone numbers, and said our goodbyes after the Metro. Mike and I headed to my apartment, and I started to think we had had a really full, nice, americanized day (what with an English movie and all). We get to the building, go in, walk up one floor, get on the elevator, and it stops.
Yes, the elevator stopped, right between floors one and two. At first we laughed, and I hyperventilated a bit because I didn’t know how high up we were. But we tried to open the doors manually (that actually doesn’t work like it does in the movies), and I found out we hadn’t moved very much. So we pushed some extra buttons, tried what we could, didn’t push one button because we didn’t know what it meant, and I eventually called Ilkam Apa. I told her that we were in the elevator, the doors were closed, it didn’t work, and that the doors wouldn’t open. She said not to worry, and hung up. At that point we heard a voice from outside. A man had walked into the building and heard us talking. He started speaking very quickly and we didn’t understand. We told him we were foreign and that we needed help. He called a number and told them that two people were stuck on the elevator. We made some small talk, he found out we were American, and immediately said in English, “Welcome to Russia.” We heard Ilkam shouting from above and telling us not to worry and that someone was coming. Then we heard her laughing, a lot. Mike got out his dictionary, and we read that the button we didn’t know was another word for “call.” We pushed it. No response. The man outside told us to push all kinds of different combinations; nothing worked.
Ilkam Apa had apparently come downstairs and she was talking with the man outside, laughing and such. She told him I was a pretty American living with her, and Mike was my friend. And then I smelled it. I just looked at Mike and asked him if he had farted, and indeed he had. “Oh my God, you farted while we’re trapped on an elevator?” Yes, the next few minutes were not pleasant. We tried to pry the door open a couple of times, talked about how funny this was, and then remembered that I had my camera on me. We took a couple of pictures of each other and one of us together to commemorate the auspicious occasion of us being stuck on an elevator. The man outside asked us how old we were, and what we studied. Then a voice came over the intercom and asked us who we were. We told the woman our names and she babbled something we didn’t understand.
After a few minutes we heard some noise in the shaft, and it sounded like someone was working on something. Then the lights went out, but only for a moment. Finally, the elevator started working, and instead of logically going down half a floor, it went up. And it kept going up, despite my desperate button pushing. Finally, it stopped, but once again the doors did not open. Now Mike and I are hanging god-knows-how-many floors up, and stuck in an elevator. Finally, the door opened, and we ran. We were on the ninth floor, and the man from earlier had gone up and worked with some people to get it fixed. We thanked him profusely and followed him down to the fourth floor where Ilkam Apa was waiting. Apparently the man is my neighbor across the hall. Ilkam thanked him and we did again, and said goodnight. We came in, laughed about it, set up an extra bed for Mike, and called it a day. Welcome to Russia.