It was the end of summer. Company N has moved to a new office: seven departments now were located in a new disposition of the open space, so each staff had to deal with new neighbors.
Surprisingly it occurred that heat-loving Artem Afrikancev from the Grocery Department now was sitting right next to the frost-resistant Matrena Ledokolova from the Accounting section. Therefore, summer and winter climate settings around the two teams changed very quickly when Artem or Matrena left their places for a minute. The other colleagues tried not to interfere into the “climate battle” preferring to pull over a sweater during winter and wind up the sleeves when suddenly summer arrived.
The most suffering side in the climate battle was the air conditioner, which went out of order from time to time squeezing out liquid drops resembling tears…
In the end of the year, Artem had to go on a business trip to Yamal peninsular, to meet with a canned factory. He booked via internet an aisle seat, switched off the air blower, and dipped into reading the board magazine, seeking for a story about snow countries. Turbulence shook Artem into sleep. Another shake woke him up when the wheels of the airplane touched the ground of Salehard city.
Artem was quite tired, upon arriving to the hotel took shower, and went to bed immediately. Strange dreams about icebergs and white bears looking like snow monsters made him wake up in cold sweat and hard breath. He did not feel like continuing watching thrilling dreams and went to the casino on the ground floor of the hotel. Artem recalled that during his study at university he read “The Gambler” by Fedor Dostoevsky, where the writer described his tactics of playing the roulette. Now the young businessman had a chance to see how Dostoevsky’s theory would work in practice. He played 6—7 games by minimal risk quarter stakes and was lucky enough to win slightly over than he invested into the chips. Gambling excitement took off his emotional tiredness and he could sleep until 7 a.m. without nightmares.
Morning meeting with the canned food factory was quite successful; Artem settled existing issues and clarified mid-term plans on the supply side. As he still had several hours until his return flight he decided to follow recommendation from the suppliers to visit local ethnographical museum and see the mummy of mammoth “Matilda”. Artem was impressed to learn that “Matilda” is the only fully preserved mammoth mummy in the world. The guide told him this could happen due to “Matilda”‘s heroic deed — when she felt the death approaching she threw herself into a swamp so that her remainders shall not be eaten by wolves. Swamp bog soaked her body in to preserve in the original condition through thousands years. The body of Matilda was occasionally discovered in 1940ies during the irrigation works.
After the museum, Artem went to the airport where he evidenced a funny situation: the announcer was asking who lost umbrella in the airport. All passengers and visitors of the terminal immediately started to check their umbrellas. Artem smiled as he thought what would happen if such announcement was done in a bigger airport with thousands visitors. Aboard the plane, he was solving chess puzzles not to fall asleep. Last night he had enough of snow monsters.
Matrena Ledokolova, on the contrary, liked to read and dream about hot countries. She even got in touch with a pen friend in Kenia, a girl called Sally, with whom she exchanged letters for already 2 years. It happened that Matrena’s brother Spiridon and Sally’s cousin Shaku were playing rugby so rugby tournaments of their brothers were one of the main topics in the letters. For extra urgent news, like astonishing hairstyle or super tasty mushroom soup, the girls used Skype or Instagram. Both of them were fond of good reading and exchanged comments when either of them had a successful hunting for a hitting novel. Adventurous travelling was among their target scope as well, while adventures found the women more frequently then they desired. Their salaries allowed them only local travelling therefore Sally shared with Matrena her experiences of climbing on Gregory volcano, which she did for a dozen of times with every time a new adventure and Matrena shared her experiences of travels to nearby towns of Borodino, Mojaisk, Sergiev Posad, Tula, and Nijny Novgorod…
The most rememberable adventure for Sally was a monkey stealing her smartphone while she was climbing. The monkey jumped to a tree and started to click the buttons enjoying colors of the screen. Evidently the monkey called a few people from Sally’s contacts saying something in the monkey language and apparently a few of the people started to call back to find out what happened with Sally as they could not recognize her voice. Sally helplessly observed the shocking performance not knowing if to continue climbing or run down faster to buy a new smartphone and block the lost one immediately. Chasing the monkey was dangerous as the girl could fall down the mountain. Finally, Sally put up and descended the mountain seeking for a nearest kiosk selling phones.
The bitterest experience for Matrena occurred when she travelled to Cheboksary town, the homeland of Cheburashka. Besides Cheburashka, the town is famous for giving birth to a famous Red Army Commander Vassily Chapaev, a self-educated genius who developed the tactics used during decades after his death including the battle for Moscow in October-December’1941. Hotel where Matrena stayed had a Jacuzzi bathtub, which she decided to use after the long busy day. When she pushed the Jacuzzi button, brown water sprayed through the nozzles, Matrena jumped up occasionally hitting the ceiling that broke and a plastic plate dropped on her head. Matrena fell down back to the dirty water trying to get out of the bathtub occasionally kicking the side of the bathtub that broke away showing off all internal mechanism structure of the Jacuzzi device. Trembling with the shock, she wiped herself with a towel and went to bed falling asleep immediately.
The pen friends tried not to mention those incidents another time.
moving to samara
Shareholders of N company ordered Artem Afrikancev to establish a branch office in Samara city. Artem did not have experience of setting up a new company from scratch but he was enthusiastic for any challenging task.
Upon arriving in Samara first of all Artem decided to visit Stalin’s bunker. From the school history book Artem knew that the bunker was built in 1941 during night time so that German airplanes did not notice the location. The digged out earth was transported in a secret direction. Samara had to become the capital of Russia in case Hitler’s army would capture Moscow, many embassies shifted from Moscow to Samara soon after German’s invasion to Soviet Union in June’1941. The strongest impression for Artem was Stalin’s cabinet on the 3rd underground floor: interior was made of wood with special coating so that a claustrophobic person could feel comfortable there. Artem was also surprised to hear from the guide that Stalin never made any notes — he remembered hundreds of names and telephone numbers by heart.
Artem rented an office in the business center located right near the bunker — he liked to watch unending queues of the tourists to the city’s main attraction. The office lord recommended Artem to visit a performance “Hamlet” at the state theater promising to help to acquire a ticket. Artem was surprised to hear that a theater ticket can be bought only by a special connection. The office lord explained that each act of the performance takes place in different space of the theater, the spectators are given tunic and play the role of the crowd. Artem could not refuse from such offer.
During the performance Artem was charmed by the stage. At a moment Hamlet approached him saying “Where is the truth, tell me! Here is the truth!”, pointing out on Artem’s reflection in the mirror. While looking into the mirror Artem noticed a young lady standing behind him, which he kept an eye for the rest of the performance.
After the final episode, when the guests were taking off the tunics Artem approached the girl starting a chat. Her name was Zina, she was a student at Finance college. Artem offered her a part time work at the Samara branch as an accountant, which Zina accepted.
Zina told Artem her father was an owner of a horse club and his hobby was restoration of historical battles. Artem got interested in this kind of activity and asked Zina to introduce him to the restorators.