My first assignment in Russia was St. Petersburg. My company offered me an apartment but I negotiated a long term rate with this cruise ship that was converted into a hotel (botel). My company approved it. I lived on this botel for a long time. Many adventures and stories took place there. One story: the night I was having a burger at the botel lounge. A dance show was in progress. I heard a loud grunt to my right! I looked up. A man dressed in black, donning a black mask was pointing a very large automatic gun at me and beckoning me to stand up.
I, Calmly, put my burger back on my plate and slowly and calmly I stood up. One of the botel managers ran to him and said, “He’s American. His papers are valid.” The man with the gun, beckoned me, with the big gun, to be seated. Calmly, I sat and finished my burger. I tapped the botel manager on the arm and said. “Spasiba Bolshoi!” He replied, “Pozhaluysta!” Then I said, “When you get a chance, please bring me my check.” He did. I paid up and got out of there.
That night, a Russian undercover agent who worked in the OMON was gunned down. The OMON (the man in the mask with big gun worked for the) went to every hotel in the city rounding up foreigners and suspects. They took nearly 20 people out of the lounge that night. That was just one of my adventures in Russia.
September 1996 – Red Square, Moscow. I’d just returned from a work assignment in Ekaterinburg and had the weekend off. I was happy to be back in Moscow. Ekaterinburg was rough. There was no heat in our hotel and some of my team members had no hot water. Our team would hang out in the dining room of the hotel every night. There was heat there because of the cooking that took place in the kitchen. We would hang out until midnight just to stay warm. When I left the dining room I would hasten to my room and dive under the bed covers —fully clothed.
I did have hot water, therefore, when I awoke the next morning, I would run to the bathroom and crank up the hot water in the shower and let the steam warm me up. After I was showered and dressed, I would hear a knock on my door. It was several of my team members, standing in line with their bath towels draped over their arms. They had no hot water.We spent two long weeks in Ekaterinburg.
After the Ekaterinburg work was done, I went to Moscow for the weekend. I was happy to be in Moscow because I stayed in an hotel that had both heat and hot water. Additionally, Moscow was a little warmer, hence me standing in front of Lenin’s tomb with just a trench coat.