Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Further Tales of Gena Goose

I wake up like a sleeping bear roused from his winter nap. Groggy, I go to the kitchen to make some tea and dabble on the computer. The usual morning drill. I write to wake myself up and get the brain going. Then I head off to the gym, Gena Goose loyally waiting outside on the street. The temperature must have dropped again for I always feel this way when it gets colder. The alarm clock says WAKE UP, the body says STAY IN BED–who do you listen to? Well, considering I want to get the fullest out of my Kaspii membership, I’m up and gear myself up for laps in the pool. The ambassador has return from his month away so I no longer swim alone in the morning. Yesterday the pool was closed for cleaning so I did the exercise machines and pumped a little iron–ooh did that feel good!
Gena Goose met me at the airport the other night when I returned from Almaty. Such a nice man–I love him. He told me another story on the way home about two guys from Moscow coming for an inspection back in the Soviet days when he was a driver for some big wig in the government. Back then it was a big deal if someone came out from Moscow so they had to be met with much fanfare and wining and dining. As protocol demanded (and still does here) after all the work there was a big table set with food and drink prior to their flight. Well, as Gena described in vivid, excited, dramatic detail, these lightweights got so drunk they were in no condition to fly. But they didn’t have a hotel, it was late and they couldn’t get one so the only thing left to do was drag them to the airport. On the way, one of them needs to take a leak so they stop and out he goes but is so drunk, he falls off the side of the road into the snow. No sooner had he done this that the other one did the same thing. So here is Gena and his boss holding up these two guys while they pee, both of them with snow all over their coats. Off they go to the airport, Gena getting more nervous and pissed off at these two buffoons. Nervous because his parents work at the airport and everyone there knows him. So here he comes with this spectacle and all his parents colleagues get to see this. A crowd has gathered for the flight and in come these two wobbling hobbling messes, covered in snow. One of them forgets his briefcase, Gena goes to get it when suddenly there’s a loud scream from the crowd. He turns around to see that his charge has fallen flat on his face into the crowd which has flown to all sides of the hall. Of course at this stage, none of these bozos are going to Moscow, so Gena and his boss think of where to take them. Neither of them will take them home, all hotels are closed for the night so they decide to take them back to the banquet hall where they started this adventure. Gena clears off the table and plops one down there, the other they put on the floor and there they stay to sleep it off. The next morning they go back early to check in on them to find the one on the table fell off during the night and both of them are snoring away on the floor. Lord knows how they ever got home. Gena told this story with such emotion he had me laughing hysterically the whole way home from the airport. I love when he tells me stories because he brings them to life in such a way the story blazes in front of me in bright colours.
Peppered with blyads, khuis and other swear words, his voice booms and then gets soft, a crescendo of emotion and a roar of laughter. By the climax of the story I have tears running down my cheeks.
As we speed toward home, the moon is bright buttery yellow circle in the deep blue night sky. Gena and I debate whether it is full or not, one of those just about full moons or maybe it’s full; depends how long you look at it. Here in this cold, harsh climate it’s nice to find a warm soul. Gena has become part of my every day life, not just a driver but a friend. So comforting to get off a plane and have someone waiting for you, excited to see you, asking about the trip. He is of the old guard from the Soviet era; a simple guy with a heart of gold, without pretenses or a drive to outdo anyone. He’s straightforward and treats everyone equal no matter where you’re from. I’m happy that he doesn’t see me as an American who he can squeeze every last dime from, but rather a client like everyone else. He charges me fair and for that I am a faithful client. Gena wasn’t to happy to hear that I was leaving at the end of the month but I assured him I’ll give him lots of work before I go, as much as I can. Until that day, we’ll drive the roads of Astana and beyond, enjoying each other’s company.

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