“In Russia, we go into the army for two years.”
Wait. What? This is enough to bring a grin to anyone’s face, but how did I get here? Let’s rewind shall we?
One of my favorite stories to tell is one of a particular Korean Russian I met while chomping on my Chicago Style pizza for breakfast at the Ace Inn Hostel in Shinjuku. I don’t know how or why he decided to sit down and have a conversation with me because I’m 100% sure the way I was stuffing my face like an animal was super cute.
He opened the conversation with a Russian accent but it didn’t add up to the handsome, flawless skinned Korean man that sat before me. “I saw you on the elevator the other day.”
Intrigued, I wondered how I hadn’t noticed such a handsome man before. I let him continue and he reminded me we exchanged pleasantries the previous evening when I was coming back tanked from Devil Craft Pizza and Brewery.
Too many Camp Fire Stout dark brews last night and… I swallowed my pizza thinking I undoubtedly made an ass out of myself when I answered, “So tell me a bit about yourself!”
“Well, I’m here traveling. I just got out of the army. In Russia, we go into the army for two years.” I listened intently as he told the story of how he killed tropical fish on accident.
“One day my superior says, ‘Go change the water of fish tank.’ I don’t know what to do with fish. As you know, it’s very cold in Russia. So I go to the river and get water. I put fish in water and they die.”
As I listened, I noticed his story was very dark, but the way he told it and his sense of humor brightened it up.
“I didn’t know what to do. So I use all my money for year to buy new fish. Punishment is very severe if superior find out.”
“How did you eat after that?”
“My friend gave me his food.”
“You know, that story sounds kind of crazy.”
“Well, you have to have sense of humor if you live in Russia. We’re very poor.”
Needless to say, he charmed me with his witty conversation for the next hour. At the end, I needed to leave for the airport and I said, “Thanks. That was really fun.”
The people you meet when you travel make for some great stories.