Hey RHU, long time reader, first time submitter, and have I got stories! I'm a Russian major and I've got a nice blue streak in my hair, so go ahead and call me Russian Blue. I do have another major, but it's highly specific and it could be the key to someone who wanted to know who I am finding out. I apologize in advance for this being a long post; there's a lot of ridiculous life conditions and their implications that I need to make all of you familiar with before you will really get my rant here.
I've worked at the card shop Hellmark in my past, and I'm sure I'll submit all those fun stories eventually, but allow me to share something that happened earlier today. Right now, I work at one of those discount resale shops that's similar to a TJ Maxx, but it's not in that family of companies. We can call this store Moss. I thought that I was done with the custys that thought my life was theirs to live when I left Hellmark, and boy was I wrong!
One thing I should clarify before I go into this is that I feel like being a Russian major in the USA that doesn't want to do government work is a little bit like... well, no disrespect to the LGBTQA community, is in many ways like being gay. Allow me to count a few of them...
2. A good percentage of people will blame you like it's your fault that you don't match up to their preconceived ideas of how you should be. Sometimes you even pity these people because they occasionally look like they could explode if bumped or otherwise disturbed.
3. You constantly have to deal with people saying that you should be something else, instead of accepting who you are and respecting what you plan to do with your life.
4. Some people are totally okay with publicly denouncing and demonizing you.
5. Nearly everyone assumes that you have a certain political orientation to go along with your sexual orientation (or in my case, my major). I know that gay Republican people I know constantly have to say that no, they aren't Democrats and explain to people that you CAN be gay and Republican. I'm a Russian major, NOT a Communist. In fact, if you must know, I'm suspicious of people asking for more power "for my own good" and I'd be closer to Anarchist than Communist, if I had to pick one extreme or the other; thank you very much.
6. It makes you romantically different. Some people will suddenly be like "Ooh, you're a _____!" and get all flirty. Then you carefully brush them and their stereotyped sexual ideas off (submissive Russian village girl, Russian spy, and Soviet Russian dominatrix are surprisingly common fantasies...) to go and date someone who's in the same boat as you. (My boyfriend and I are both Russian majors, for example, because we get it. Dating outside of the Russian department as a Russian major is only a waste of your time.)
The similarities go on, but I've covered more than enough of them for now. It is at the point where when I tell people I'm a Russian major, I call it "coming out" because I deal with two to three rude people per week who, prior to hearing my major and life plans which THEY asked about, were perfectly reasonable human beings. These include relatives, friends, professors, classmates, random strangers in the checkout line who decide they fancy a chat while they're waiting and decide to ask the girl with the blue hair what she wants to do with her life (again, surprisingly common), and especially CUSTOMERS.
And that's where today's story comes in and things get interesting. Grab a beer--you'll likely need it.
So I'm at Moss and I'm told to clean up a huge chunk of the store. We call this process "recovery"... I don't know why it's called "recovery." If the store is "sick" before you pick the crap up off the floor and put it where it should be, you're a small cell in a losing battle with a system that has an autoimmune problem. The very customers that keep the store alive reinfect the place within ten minutes of it being cleaned up anyways, so the road to "recovery" is more like a treadmill. But I digress.
So I'm doing my recovery and having a crappy old time, given that I'd worked a stock shift at another workplace earlier that day and it'll be a twelve hour day between the two jobs' worth of hours for me, with enough pause for a coffee. Some customer recognizes me because she knows my mother, and a lot of people know my mother because of where she works, and I don't know these people but they certainly know me.
She and I chat for a while as I clean up racks, and I mention my university.
Some Random Dude pops up next to me, seemingly out of nowhere, and I don't think anything of it. SRD asks me about the school I go to. He starts off talking about that, because he's doing an online degree program in the same school. I've taken online classes so I can relate. The nice lady takes her leave, as if she knows.
SRD: So, what are you studying?
SRD tells me after the standard game of 20 Questions that he is an Independent Military Contractor (in layman's terms, he's a hired operative for the U.S. The whole "hired operative" thing means he's not a "U.S. troop", so politicians can say we don't have an many troops somewhere, but the reality is we might still be occupying the country, just with IMCs. A good many of the IMCs are foreign though.) He also says he's been recruiting a number of bright young people just like me for the Company for many years. Russian government work is in demand now, you know, with the whole second Cold War dealio being a possibility. I should really check it out; I could live the high life.
Oh God, please help me. Get me away from this man. The Company, for anyone who doesn't know, is a term for the CIA, America's spy agency. I do NOT want to be a spy. I don't even want to pick a country. I just want to live quietly in a rural dacha in the Russian countryside.
He says they need females more than anything, and as long as I have a clean background check, I'm good to go and I will get hired by the Company. I can even see the world, and travel, all on the Company's dime. I tell him I'm not interested in money; I'm interested in simple missions work by helping people (NOT by hollering and being a bigoted, polarized-worldview bitch...which is important to clarify), translating books, farming, breeding horses and living quietly and wholesomely.
I could continue my education with the Company, he tells me. I could get free postgraduate education!
I know this already, and yes, it does appeal to my academic nature. Ok, that's cool, but I really don't need much more than my two degrees and some in country language experience to translate books from Russian to English. I can self-teach, something I've proven to myself and others over and over again.
Then he says I'd surely like to help my country. Why not serve your country? Those Russians...well, they're not to be trusted, are they?
What I wanted to say to that man is that the CIA is so damn secretive about everything that I don't even know if I would want to do anything for them, because their work is classified so I have no clue what I'd even be working on, or why. That I didn't want to constantly be afraid to mis-translate something that helps start a war (which HAS happened), and that I just wanted to live a quiet life where I didn't have to worry about blood on my hands as a result of my translations. That I'd rather live quietly among Russian villagers than among closed-minded, ignorant individuals such as himself. Some Russians are dangerous, but so are some Americans. Likewise, many Russians are kind and trustworthy people once you develop a friendship with them. Just like Americans.
And more. Much, much more, I wanted to say to this man. Disclaimer: I'm not super patriotic. I'm sorry if that offends you. I know it makes a lot of Americans mad when you say that and people look at you like you just murdered their puppy, but I'm not going to lie about that because it's important to me to not identify myself by my country of origin. It's also important to the rest of the story. Saying that you're proud to be an American, in my humble opinion, is something akin to saying that you're proud to have brown eyes, or that you're proud to have attached-lobe ears, or that you're proud that your mother was born in Ireland. All of those things happen by chance. Be proud of things you've done and skills you have; don't take pride in stuff that merely *is*.
As a result, I don't really care to help one country or another, and I'm not going to pick and choose sides. If I ever DID pick sides, I wouldn't do it by mere happenstance of the location of my birth. I wouldn't do it based on what languages I can speak. I can learn a new language if need be. I would do it based on what felt right in my heart and what I knew in my head would work for me. Quit shoving this particular country down my throat, dude. The "pro patria" argument just doesn't work on me. It does, however, make want to elope with my boyfriend and fly to Russia three or so years ahead of schedule, to hopefully get away from people like him in a small Russian countryside village that may or may not have running water. I wanted to tell this man that I would give up running water and plumbing and electricity right now in order to get away from him. I wanted to walk out.
But alas, I was on the clock and couldn't. He got so excited when I forewent that whole rant and told him that I would consider it. He was so enthusiastic and he really thought I should get in contact with the CIA. He finally left me alone... after a half an hour or so of dealing with him and his lack of respect for what I plan to do with my life, while trying to clean up aisles with him following me. Did I mention that? Oh, yeah. He followed me to give me this lecture the whole time.
He was somewhat professional looking and didn't appear mentally unstable. I've decided he was either a good faker, a crazy guy, or the real deal. I can't decide which though...
How hard is it to leave someone alone who simply wants to be left alone, RHU? I never asked for this man's life guidance or the rundown of the CIA benefits package. I get the government work lecture every week at least, to the point where it makes me even more convinced that I don't want to do it. I never asked to be rich, or comfortable, or even happy. I only ever wanted to be respected enough to be let to do what is right for myself and others as best I know how.
May all of your customers not be nosy, and may they respect your life choices because your life choices are not in fact in the clearance section,