Of all the mayhem that took place last week in Boston, there was an image I willed to stay with me… a photo showing a local police officer in a bulletproof vest, carrying two gallons of milk in a residential area. The caption of the photo, which made the rounds on Facebook over the weekend, read that the officer elected to help a family with small children that was out of milk and stuck at home during the lockdown. As the mother of a small child, I could immediately relate to the horror of being forced to remain at home with an empty fridge. Forget terrorists… the screaming alone would kill you.
As a Moscow resident, I also thought about the image of our own police officers. Several of my Russian friends shared the photo with disdainful comments of their own, messages that amounted to, “Try getting a Moscow cop to do something like THAT during a lockdown. Fat chance”. Of course, one should probably try imposing a lockdown on Moscow and see how that works out (hint: It won’t work out), before one judges. Yet, I understood the sentiment my Russian friends were expressing. In a city like Moscow, authority figures simply can’t appear too caring. It’d go against everything they were taught. It’d make them look soft, possibly vulnerable… and vulnerability is frequently punished.
However, I remembered a story that happened to a former Moscow neighbour of mine a couple of years ago. This story will never go viral on Facebook… and not just because there’s no photographic evidence. Simply put, most people wouldn’t believe it. Yet, as a witness to part of it, I can at least confirm some of the details. This neighbour, an ancient lady of the sort one might describe as “old Soviet intelligentsia”, had a nasty run-in with a member of Moscow’s nouveau riche. He nearly ran her over on a pedestrian crossing in his luxury car, and she injured herself while lunging out of the way. The guy tried to speed off, but ended up losing control of his vehicle and crashing it into a construction fence.
I wasn’t there for the immediate aftermath, but was living in that neighbourhood at the time, and hearing about what had happened, elected to meet her at the police station and walk her home. She didn’t need hospitalisation, but she was badly shaken and, worse still, humiliated by the man who’d nearly run her over. Apparently, he’d screamed at her that it was all her fault, that she was an “old bag” and “too slow”. This may seem shocking, but if you know anything about the Moscow nouveau riche, you wouldn’t be shocked at all. I waited for her from across the street and saw her walk out, shaking, barely able to retain her composure, after giving a statement to the police. There was a little hat with velvet flowers on her head, and the hat alone broke my heart. For an older woman, she’d taken such great pains to always look her best… and here she was, looking fragile and lost, with the hat askew on her gray hair.
As I made my way over to her, an old cop car drove out of the parking lot adjacent to the station, and a policeman inside rolled down his window. He said, “Get in, we’ll drive you home, it’s only a few blocks”. My neighbour asked if I could join, and they nodded, so I got in. On our way back to her building, the two policemen sitting up front consoled this old, lonely woman the best way they knew how. From what I gathered later, they’d witnessed her being berated and humiliated after having been nearly run over by the member of the so-called “elite”… and took umbrage. Therefore, they told stupid jokes, made her laugh, and told her that things would be OK. It was a very short and surreal ride in a Moscow cop car, but I haven’t forgotten it. I haven’t forgotten the officers’ eyes in the rear-view mirror, as they told her that the guy would surely “get his due”.
I never did find out what happened to the guy in question… whether he suffered any consequences, whether he at least had his license suspended, or if he pulled strings and got off scot-free, as people like him frequently do. My neighbour died soon after, when I was away. She had a chronic illness she had taken pains to conceal. Her heirs, who live far away, I didn’t know very well. Nevertheless, I do think about this woman, already in the last weeks of her life, being helped out of that police car and walked all the way to her apartment. I think about those two cops… one older and one younger. They weren’t being heroes that day, but they did act like human beings, which can be heroic in the right kind of context. I hope they’ve continued to act like human beings… and I hope that one day, they too will go viral on Facebook for performing a small act of kindness. If only to remind us that Moscow’s cops can also be kind.
22 April 2013
Nicky and I had an encounter with an “entitled” nouveau riche similar to the one that happened to the old woman in Moscow. We were pulling out of the Russian store on Central Avenue, and a BMW started rolling down the alleyway that provided access to Central Ave. The driver jumped out of the car, and started to scream at us in Russian and English, and you could tell that they considered themselves “better” than the rest of us, and that “their shit didn’t stink”, as the saying has it. They were thoroughly nasty, but you could tell that they thought themselves “oh-so-superior” to the common herd such as us.
Let’s not be coy. Crapitalism encourages such behaviour. After all, they “earned” what they have… and, we, lazy layabouts, didn’t deserve equal (or even decent) treatment. It’s why I oppose people such as Victor Potapov, James Paffhausen, Alexander Webster, Terrence Mattingly, Rod Dreher, and Freddie M-G… they’re cheerleaders for the Affluent Effluent and “Economic Freedom”. Reflect on this… they’d tack up Our Lord a second time, and they’d back Caiphas to the max. Why? After all, you can’t have working-class rabble-rousers stirring up the envious hoi-polloi, can you? It does make you wonder about the Christianity of certain loud “Christian” sorts, doesn’t it? Oh, yes… there was only ONE “educated” Apostle… Judas Iscariot. Think on that one, too… it’s a meaty Lenten meditation (pun intended)…
It won’t last forever… God will NOT be mocked…