Syedyshev Oleg
Syedyshev Oleg

Humorous Essays Based on students' memories

"All have died
except for those who are alive, and those whom we remember"Confucius

Essay 64. Feeling Of Pride

A trolleybus route was opened in Kemerovo. The first trolleybus started from Sovetov Square on 25 August, 1970. The whole city was happy. Vagram and I were glad as well. And we had a reason, that way we would have fewer problems at least with public transportation. And there were oceans of them in Kemerovo. However, if to be honest, on those days we did not focus on that kind of things; we did not think about them at all. Study and student everyday life were the scope of our worries. And the main student problem is

One could not say that Vagram and I were in an acute need, nevertheless there is never too much money. So I went to make a reconnaissance. As they say now - to conduct monitoring. I found out the following: trolleybus garage was located at the outskirts of Kemerovo, however its administration was placed at a tram depot near "Karbolit", and the administration's name was "Electric Transport Administration". And the main thing I had learned was that washmen were needed at the garage. They offered piecework payment, depending on a number of washed trolleybuses. And the cost of manual washing was quite high. Our working day could be from 6pm to 1.30am. At 1.30am a shift trolleybus took drivers and all the maintenance staff to their homes. At the HR Department I was told that for ten or fifteen working shifts a month one could receive up to two hundred rubles in cash.

I shared the results of my reconnaissance with Vagram. There was no need for a long discussion. We decided to give it a try, and then see what would happen. When we came to get the job, there was one more surprise waiting for us, which we had not expected. When I was performing my reconnaissance and visited the HR Department, I was told that one had to bring three photographs.

So, one of the photos was for an ID of a staff member of Kemerovo tram and trolleybus depot, which gave us the right to go by tram or trolleybus for free. We were already happy because of the cost savings, the ID provided us with, and also because of moral satisfaction, we received, when we got on a tram or a trolleybus together with our group mates and announced to a conductor: "Staff ID". Well and when we were asked to show our IDs, we imposingly took them out of our pockets and similar to cops opened our IDs demonstrating them to the conductor or a control person. Only one thing was a bit disappointing, the IDs' covers were not red, but dark-grey, now this color if on cars is called "wet asphalt". And if the covers were red... I am even not sure, if we would do the washing of trolleybuses or would be content to have just the IDs.

Yeah, I've almost forgotten, we were also given a sack with working closes each: rubber high boots, cotton overalls, tarpaulin overalls, rubberized aprons, tarpaulin gauntlets, mops and ten meters of sack cloth. And we were told beforehand that only sack cloth was written off while we were working, and the rest we had to return when quitting the job. My grandmother lived in Yagunovka in a house, and as soon as sack cloth was written off before we quitted, I brought to her Vagram's and my shares of it. Oh, how much she praised me and Vagram! She was saying that it was more convenient to wash floors with sack cloth than with anything else. She even gave us a three liter jar of homemade brew, but we did not drink all of it right away. We stretched it out for six times; we poured it into half a liter jars and took one at work at the garage and were drinking it when having a snack. It should be said that our snacks were served according to VIP standards. First of all, for our snacks we had found in one of hangars a tall movable tower five-six meters high; that was where on the very top we served generous snacks for ourselves. We had a smart tablecloth (in a department of the regional hospital we had solicited some gauze), on which we put everything we had brought and did our best to lay the table. The biggest hassle was with folding glasses; we could drink the brew from them, but our tea smelled plastic. So after the third or the forth time the plastic became deformed, and liquid was dripping out of them, so we replaced the glasses by enameled mugs. There was no fixed time for snack at work. We ourselves chose the time: when there was a space of time in returning of the trolleybuses from their routs, we arranged a break in the washing. Usually that was at about ten or eleven at night.

Though, let's get back to the work itself. On the first day we came at work an hour earlier. We had to know, how much time it would take us to get to the garage. We were supposed to receive boxes to put our clothes in when changing; each of us was given two of them: for working clothes and our clothes. Well, as soon as we came earlier, a foreman conducted an excursion around the garage for us on a garage trolleybus. She'd better never did that. Vagram and I were standing behind her, watching how to drive a trolleybus, and then at night time we arranged races around the garage, and were reprimanded by foremen on a regular bases. However all foremen, for some reason, were women of age, so they treated us like children, they reproved us, tried to look strict, scared us with the administration, but nothing more than that, well, and we were playing mischievous tricks.

On the first day together with Vagram we washed only ten vehicles. That was not enough, as the foreman told us, when signing our work order, a document, in which we enlisted numbers of the trolleybuses we had washed and put date, time and our last names for bookkeeping. That was not enough for the foreman, but Vagram and I were exhausted, as it had turned out a trolleybus had a huge outside area for washing, and we also had at least to sweep inside it. And as for cleaning inside a trolleybus, we liked it. Practically every day we found something. There was change dropped under seats and one ruble or three rubles notes, and once we found a purse with more than one hundred rubles. We even found a folder with some papers and a passport. We brought it to a police station on the next day. And, just imagine, that daydreamer came to thank Vagram and me to the garage. He brought cognac, as Vagram said: "Unfortunatelly it's Georgian, but still". Here is the centuries-old rivalry between the Armenians and the Georgians.

However it was not in vain that the foreman had arranged and excursion for us and taught us to drive a trolleybus. When at home, after we had slept and rested, we remembered, that the foreman had shown us an automatic trolleybus washing shop. She had been very proud of it and even said that it had been absolutely ready, but they had not been able to use it, as a labor protection commission had not approved it yet. During the first month we had shifts every other day; there were not enough washers. Again we decided to come earlier and check the unapproved automatic trolleybus wash. So we did. The foreman started praising us, when we came at work earlier; she thought that we were driven by the feeling of responsibility and came to wash more trolleybuses. However she thought that we wanted to wash the trolleybuses manually; and we were looking for an opportunity to wash more, but work less. The foreman was right, when during the excursion she had said, that the trolleybus wash was absolutely ready. That was super: you drove a trolleybus into the wash, it went through huge brushes, which cleaned simultaneously its front, both sides and the back wall. Though on the back wall there were missed spots, but it was not difficult to get read of them. During that shift we washed twenty one trolleybuses. That was what Vagram told the foreman to answer her question of how many: "Point". Poor foreman did not understand, and we had to explain to her, that "point" meant twenty one, and that was what we had written in the work order. However before signing our work order, the foreman checked quality of the washing (she had not done any checking at the previous shift); she was confused by the double increase of the washed vehicles. She was satisfied with the inspection and praised us. Well, we were in "tails up" mood, and announced her our increased obligations, saying that with time we would wash half a hundred trolleybuses during a shift. The foreman chuckled and challenged us, and we became really enthusiastic. After that we were not as much tired as at the first time, and an average number of the trolleybuses we washed for a shift during the first month was twenty five, so we earned decent money, and each of us received two hundred and fifty rubles in cash. We were content. We already had an algorithm of what we were doing. If at the beginning we tried to wash a trolleybus completely and only after that moved to another one, then later we changed our tactics. We realized that sooner or later we would be caught, and they would understand that we were using the automatic wash. And we used the following tactics: as soon as several trolleybuses returned from the rout, we quickly ran them through the automatic wash and then brought them to the manual wash shop, and after that cleaned everything inside and washed the spots, which had been missed on the back wall. We received more free time during a shift, and there we started arranging races around the garage territory; it was huge, there were several routs there, along which Vagram and I drove first slowly, and then started racing. That was a miracle that we broke none of the vehicles. Well, for the second month we totally earned three hundred and fifty rubles in cash each; and for the third one almost four hundred. Believe it or not, we were paid that money.

However, when there was time to receive salary for the forth month, and we expected to receive about five hundred rubles per person, as we washed forty vehicles in average during a shift, but we received only two hundred and fifty. Sure enough, we protested, and we were directed to the Labor and Salary Department, where we were clearly explained, that it was physically impossible to wash that many vehicles manually. We were shown guides of the Ministry and told some workloads, and finally it was announced that we were using the automatic wash, and there job prices were absolutely different, and we received our salary according to them. Vagram and I felt robbed and quitted the job, but when we were signing our clearance chits and returning the work clothes, it was found out that there had been lost Vagram's rubberized apron and my tarpaulin gauntlets, and we had to reimburse their cost when receiving the final payment. We felt offended again and decided not to return our IDs, which allowed us free trips. We said that we had lost them. We did not have to pay reimbursement for them, we were just asked to state a loss in a written form.

Vagram and I continued to study to become doctors with the feeling of pride that two of us approved the automatic wash at the trolleybus garage of the city of Kemerovo, and it became much easier

for those, who came after us, to wash trolleybuses; and they, the trolleybuses, pleased by their cleanliness the people of Kemerovo as well as its guests.

21 September, 2011

© Copyright: Oleg Syedyshev, 2012
Publishing licence #21207230550

Translated by Viktoria Potykinato content