“The Americans are politics before the light bulb”
Escaping from the hectic life in the metropolis, many compatriots choose quieter places of habitation. Cardinally changing the environment, they do not feel at ease, on the contrary – they discover new facets of their personality. In continuation of the project on Russians living abroad, Lenta.ru publishes the story of Gennady Khristich, who moved from Khimki outside Moscow to the suburb of Baltimore.
I moved to Pikesville, Maryland, four years ago, following my family. Then there were four of us: a wife and two daughters (a seven-year-old first-year student and a four-month-old baby). The spouse came here on a working visa three years before me, and I stayed at home. In Khimki I was kept stable work with a good income in the company engaged in the production and sale of building materials. Then it was a good business, as the construction was on the rise.
At first, I did not even suspect what life begins, because before that it was comfortable and convenient. We lived securely. But when you move to a new place, you can forget who you were before. It does not matter here.
The first thing that surprised – the nature of Maryland. There are forests, rivers, hills everywhere, extraordinarily fresh air. Still there are many wild animals that, I think, are not afraid of people: squirrels, rabbits, foxes, raccoons, deer, badgers, marmots, ducks, geese.
In Pikesville, according to statistics, 19.3 percent of the Russian-speaking population is every fifth inhabitant. As far as I know, this is the maximum for the US. And only about 30 thousand residents, which almost never happens on the street. At the same time, ethnic diversity is very good, for example, in the local cuisine. Russian, Asian, Latin American, European, Arab and African cafes and restaurants, shops with ethnic products. Therefore, in spite of the fact that the town is small, we do not feel at the side of life.
Finding a job in the US is easy enough. I always had a desire to work in the field of nutrition – I and the house like to tinker around in the kitchen. So I worked here in several restaurants and cafes. And now the golf club is the third season. The institution is very expensive, private, and not everyone can get to us.
In truth, even President Barack Obama flies here with a stick. All clients are from the VIP category. As the Americans say – big name persons. Among the players – and swimmer Michael Phelps, and various TV personalities, and politicians, and sports stars.
The work is good, the place is wonderful, the people are benevolent. It was not easy to get this job, I had to go through four interviews, since they are very scrupulous in recruiting personnel. With each new interview, the official position of the person interviewed me was higher and higher.
I was lucky: they were free of the employee responsible for breakfast, and this is a managerial position, which I hastened to take. It turns out quite well, I am satisfied, I am them too. Rebuilding consciousness due to the fact that in Russia was a completely different field of activity, it was easy, because working with people and this area are interesting to me.
Russian speakers here have their shops, restaurants, pharmacies, insurance agents, lawyers, newspapers and so on. By experience, I can say that the vast Russian community at first helps a lot. Rarely does anyone come to the United States with good English, with a sought-after specialty, and generally with a clear understanding of “why I am here.”
Most Russians begin their careers in a new place from work to their compatriots. As a rule, the owners of Russian companies are Jews, who moved 20-30 years ago. People are friendly, sympathetic, but at the same time they clearly understand that you have nowhere to go from the submarine.
The downside is that due to the prevalence of our language, those who come here have lost the motivation to learn English. The same situation for Mexicans and Arabs.
And it happens that ours and in Russian are badly expressed. When I worked as a cashier in a Russian store, I heard: “Have a good day, gayz”, “And will you have kvass tomorrow?” And so on. I am very careful about my native language and I hope that I will not lose it in tens of years.
If we talk about Americans, then basically they are friendly people, not rude, slightly naive. I did not see any negative attitude, maybe a couple of times in big supermarkets at the checkout. But it employs specific staff, so this is not an indicator.
Americans are daily confronted with the fact that emigrants do not understand them, and they do not understand visitors. Local, poor fellows, have long been accustomed to this, and patiently repeat phrases, even sometimes trying to copy a foreign accent. They think that it will be easier for the neighbor.
I myself witnessed how a guy from Latin America carefully tried to explain to the venerable mother of a large African-American family in the vegetable department of the store that he did not understand her, since she incorrectly pronounces the word strawberry (strawberry).
Everything for animals.
In my opinion, Americans are less politicized than we are. On a get-together with compatriots (which, unfortunately, happens very rarely), the conversation always smoothly turns to different serious topics. And the Americans are politicians to the bulb. At parties with local you can touch any topic (work, sport, weather), and you will be supported. Nobody, at least with me, does not talk about televised debates, presidential candidates, about the advantages of this or that party, although their elections are just around the corner.
But the inhabitants of the United States have a great passion, I would even say, the meaning of life: pets. It’s strange for me to observe this every time, since there is an obvious inflection. Pussies, dogs, hamsters, rats, parrots of all sizes, breeds, any color and quantity. For animals there is paradise and communism. Huge supermarkets for animals, doctors and hairdressers, nannies and nurses. As a result, I bought an aquarium. Plovtsov started while unpretentious: swordsmen, neon fish and catfishes.
Not so family.
There is an opinion that family values are important for Americans. Maybe this is so, but here’s the attitude, for example, to the divorce here is very easy and at ease, both among Native Americans and among the emigrants. I myself am divorced for the third year. I live separately from my family, I rent the first floor in a three-level house.
This is only the beginning of the road.
At first there was a desire to return, but now no longer. So much strength and nerves that I spent to stay here, should not be wasted. Although I understand that this is only the beginning. So I’m not going anywhere from here. Perhaps in the future, when the children grow up, I will change the state. Green card I have thanks to his ex-wife, so ahead – the registration of citizenship. And I’ll come home for a visit.
If to generalize, then life in America, whatever one may say, I like. It is said that every visitor here is discovering his own America. I would add that what this “own America” will be depends only on the person himself.