Saturday, February 13, 2010

Joining the Army... The Joys of Conscription

One of my students had to go register for the military this week. All boys have to sign up when they're sixteen, and you're supposed to serve for a year when you're between 18 and 27. I don't think I need to even mention the conditions in the Russian Armed Forces... That being said, it's not that hard to get out of it: university studies; bribery; fake medical certification stating you're unfit to serve; being a father to two kids... I only know one boy who is now in the military, and that's because he's attending the equivalent of West Point.

I thought you might enjoy my student's take on the experience. He wrote this for the school newspaper and it cracked me up when I read it. His humor really shines through when writing in Russian; I had no idea he had such wry and sarcastic wit! The English version really doesn't do him justice.

Как я ходил в армию!

Недавно мне прислали повестку о постановке на воинский учет. Безусловно, я очень обрадовался. Зачем учиться, когда я могу надеть каску на голову, таскать автомат и бегать кросс? А что, предложение заманчивое!

Собравшись с мыслями, я поехал в военкомат. При входе меня встретили люди с суровыми лицами, которые проводили меня на медицинскую комиссию.

Вначале мне предложили тест, обязательный к выполнению, в котором было 300 вопросов.

В помещении , где я проходил тестирование, было страшно холодно, поэтому пришлось сидеть в куртке, шарфе, шапке и (!!) перчатках! Ох, я представил, что и на службе также тепло.

Слава Богу, народу было мало, всего трое человек. Один из нас был похож на пассивного

зубра, а другой - на злобного тушканчика. На кого же был похож я?

Вопросы были разных типов. Некоторые вопросы сводились к тому, чтобы соединить

палочки и кружочки, другие представляли собой задачи про бизнес. Солдатам, конечно, нужно знать толк в бизнесе!

Но самые сложные вопросы были в части «С». Они были настолько сложны, что я даже потерял дар речи. Серьезно!

Самый сложный вопрос из этого раздела был следующим: (только прочитайте лучше несколько раз, задачка построена так, чтобы дезориентировать человека)


Саша познакомился с Машей.

Маша познакомилась с Сашей.


Познакомился ли Саша с Машей?

варианты ответа:

а. Да

б. Нет.

в. Затрудняюсь ответить.

Я был ошарашен. Долго думая, я выбрал ответ в.

Но это было только начало. Затем я прошел круг почета по докторам. Первый из них был стоматолог. Когда он полез в мою ротовую полость своими пальцами, не совсем чистыми, я чуть не упал в обморок. Это было шокотерапия. Другие доктора вместо того, чтобы осматривать меня, разговаривали по телефону. А затем я попал в место, где надо было раздеться до трусов. Учитывая, что температура была чуть выше нуля, мне было вдвойне «приятно». Затем меня вызывали четыре доктора. Для меня осталось загадкой одно. Каждый из них мне говорил: « Снять трусы!». Причем, когда я их снимал, мне сразу же говорили «Молодец! Надевай!». До сих пор эта загадка не разгадана. Неужели все врачи нудисты- любители?

Думаю, что об этом я узнаю в армии.

С уважением , будущий солдат Сxxxx Гхххх.

How I Joined the Army!

Not too long ago I received my notice to register for the military. Well, of course, I was thrilled! Why study, when I can wear a helmet, lug around a machine gun, and run cross-country? What a tempting offer, no?

Filled with these thoughts, I headed to the military headquarters. I was greeted at the entrance by people with severe faces who led me to the medical commission.

To start off with, they gave me a test I had take—with 300 questions.

The area where I had to go through the testing was horribly cold, so I had to sit in my coat, scarf, hat and (!!) gloves! Ah, I figured it was just as warm when you enlist.

Thank God, there were few only a few others, only three people in all. One of us looked like a passive buffalo, and the other... like a spiteful twerp. So who did I look like?

There were all kinds of questions. Some tasks had you join dashes and squares, while others had you solve questions about business. Soldiers, of course, need to know how to get by in business!

But the most difficult questions of all were in part "S." They were so hard that I was even left speechless. Seriously! The most difficult question in the section was the following (it's best to just read it a few times, since the question is designed to confuse you).

Here goes:

Sasha met Masha.

Masha met Sasha.


Did Sasha and Masha meet?

Possible answers:

a. Yes.

b. No.

c. It's hard to say.

I was dumbfounded. After mulling it over, I chose answer "c."

That was only the beginning. Then I had to make the rounds of all the doctors. The first was a dentist. When he poked around my mouth with his not-too-clean fingers, it was all I could do to not faint. It was shock therapy. Instead of examining me, other doctors simply talked on the phone.

And then I got to the area where you have to strip down to your underwear. Keeping in mind that the temperature was only slightly higher than 0 degrees Celsius, you know why it was doubly "enjoyable" for me. Four doctors called me over. This was the final test. Each one of them told me, "Take off your underwear!" You know, as soon as I pulled it down, they immediately told me, "Fantastic, young man! Put it back on!" I still haven't figured out that last riddle... Could all doctors be nudist enthusiasts?

I think I'll find out in the Army.


Future Soldier Sxxxx Gxxxx


Anonymous said...

Interesting although tough ALL countries should have it. It would sort the wheat from the chaff and turn hooligans into decent people. Of course not all young men are hooligans but you get my point!?

I wish him the very best!

The Expatresse said...

Yes . . . wishing him all the best.

MoscowMom said...

He won't ever serve a day! Like I said, it's not so hard to find your way out of it... I can't imagine letting my child serve in the regular military here... The conditions are very dangerous (and I'm not even talking about being sent into a war zone).

Anonymous said...

It will do him good it will be hard but he will live BUT As you say, most pay their way out, so he will never actually do his bit for Russia. Its a pity.

Anonymous said...

It's really NOT a pity, there are stories of young men coming back from the army seriously malnourished. I'm glad for him.

Anonymous said...

malnourished maybe but men with a twinkle in their eyes!!

Anonymous said...

I hope that this young man does not have to serve, and I hope by some other means that bribery and deceit. I am a pacifist, so I always hope that we will stop sending our children to wars to kill or to be killed. Hopefully we will do it soon enough, so my grandchildren do not have to face it.
I do not know much about conditions in modern Russian army, but what I know about American recruits is scary enough.

katbat said...

I love his humor! I hope he keeps it!

Amanda said...

Wow! Thanks for sharing this! I'm actually quite surprised at how many countries have compulsory conscription - is it compulsory in the US?

Annie said...

I copied out the Russian essay and gave it to Ilya to read; it was good practice reading Russian and a chance for him to see what his brother went through (and what he's missed!).

Our dear Alla has gone out and visited Ilya's and Nastya's older brother who is in the army now, and stationed somewhere near Moscow. I think she felt better about his situation after visiting him.

garnet said...

Great story! Glad he's got a sense of humor. Yes, I know all about how easy it is to get out of these required army services, even without bribery. Or rather, to get the long service one has to do if one didn't get accepted to university delayed until one does get accepted and then can serve the shorter term.