Do not pass GO

The elevator finally rattled its way to the ground floor, and the doors slid open with a bang. It looked like it had seen better years, and most of those years apparently were 1963-1967. We all got in, and I looked at the button panel.

Shane pushed the button for 18, and it stuck in, with a mechanical CLACK. A little button popped out next to it.

“What’s that?” I asked, pointing to the smaller button.

Shane smiled, and pushed in the button for the fifth floor, it also stuck in, and when he pushed the smaller button, the main button popped back out. “It lets you cancel your floor choice”

This seemed backwards to me, until I realized that I can’t do that with a modern elevator. Funny. Shane then reached over, and held down a button marked “Khod” the Russian word for “Go”, and the doors closed and we started to go up. As we passed the Eighth floor, he held the GO button in again until we passed.

“Why did you hold the button in again?” I asked

“Shane looked over after releasing the button, “The call button on 8 is stuck, and the elevator always stops there. If you hold down the Go button, it ignores the Call on the floor.”

Made sense, “But what is someone is waiting on 8?”

“They usually walk down to 7 to catch the elevator, it’s faster.”

Anywhere else this would have been crazy, but this was Russia, and made perfect sense.

We finally got to our floor, and walked out of the elevator over to one of only four doors on the floor. It was a big steel door, and Shane rang the bell. We could hear an inner door unlock, see someone at the peephole, then the steel door was unlocked and creaked open. A small, blonde Russian girl was behind the door.

“Privet Shane. Oh, hi, you must be the new guys. I’m Irina, come on in.” Her English was better than mine, as if that was hard.

We went in, and found a nice little apartment.There was a small entry where Irina had her desk, with a hall leading away. I could see the kitchen at the far end of the hall. It was almost like the little bears nursery rhyme, with three rooms in a row off of the hallway. The first room had a couch and was for client reception. This seemed odd since out client for this contract was the government, and the couch was far too small for all of them, at least at once. The second room was for the three "bosses " who had their own desks here and their own space. The last room had a stack of unassembled desks, and a few unopened boxes with our equipment.

I looked out the window. we had an amazing unobstructed view of the best of Moscow. It was panoramic, we cols see Moscow state University, a view of the river to Gorky park, The Hotel Rossia, St. Basil’s, The Kremlin, GUM, and everything in between. While I was gawking, Paul and Bob had already staked out their spaces. I got the last space in the room, near the window, and near the much too hot radiator.

We ended up calling the room ‘The Boiler Room" and this was my home for about a year.