Russian Parking

by Nikita

Have you ever heard a typical Russian dialogue of this kind?
Interlocutor A asks questions to interlocutor B who replies.
A. “Where do you live?”
B. “Far.”
A. “Do you live in a house?”
B. “Hard to say.”
A. “Why is it difficult to say?”
B. “I cannot explain.”
A. “What do you do in Moscow?”
B. “I live here.”
A. “Do you work?”
B. “Sometimes.”
A. “Where do you go on holiday?”
B. “I do not know.”
A. “Do you take some time off from time to time?”
B. “It’s a difficult question.”
A. “Do I ask too many questions?”
B. “Yes, indeed, I am a bit tired.”

Russian confidentiality is probably inherited from the old Soviet regime, where people were wary of each other and thus remained discreet about their private lives. As a result, interpersonal communications are often vague and this is something people give up on quickly. On the other hand, in Russia there are a few road signs which exceed in exactitude, in detailed information, again due to the Soviet legacy of rules and procedures, but also, and especially, as a modern trend. This is at risk of becoming too precise and obsessive like the ‘look right’ and ‘look left’ directions painted on the asphalt in London; warning pedestrians crossing the roads, but this is not the case in Russia where the pictograms of the parking signs that demonstrate how to park your car are just hilarious.

When it is possible to park along the pavement, the pictogram will show a car parallel to the kerb. If the allowed parking space is on the right hand side of the road, the graphic will show the right side of the car next to the kerb, whereas if it is authorized to park on the left side, the left side of the vehicle will be close to the kerb.

To indicate those times and places where you have to park your car in a herringbone pattern, there is a pictogram that shows a car perpendicular to the kerb. If parking on the pavement is allowed then the vehicle will be represented up on the sidewalk. Where else?
And that’s not all. There is also a sign that shows the car with both front wheels on the kerb, as if it was about to turn over. These road signs practically regulate common practices, a way à la russe to becoming a global city. So authorities also added the pictogram of a car halfway up on the kerb, but this time with the rear wheels on the sidewalk!

And why not also have (while the authorities are at it) an ideogram of a pair of glasses placed on a sign, between a pedestrian crossing sign and a bump one, sign for people with reduced vision, which, however, shrewdly anticipates the classic excuse addressed to the policeman: “I am sorry, I did not see it” by people with normal vision.

The moral is: A great variety of rules can be imposed, but the Russians like all of us, still have the freedom to answer the question “Where did you park the car?” with, “I don’t know.”