Last weekend Terry and I had a child-free date of lunch and museum. We all had slept badly the night before, museums exhaust me (although I love them, what does that say about me?), and by going I was missing my rest/nap time (i.e. Alex's nap). This is all background to explain why I was so completely fatigued when we got onto the metro to go home.
Piter has one of the deepest subway systems in the world (possibly the deepest?), so the escalators are very, very, very long. You're not allowed to sit down on the steps while you're on them, but people do all the time. Every time I have been on the metro I have seen people sitting on the steps. So, in my exhaustion, what do I do? Yep, I plunk down to have me a 5 minute rest.
As we get closer to the bottom I can see metro security down there, as usual. I get up, and as I exit the escalator they gesture me over and start harassing me about sitting down. They point to the sign that forbids it. They try to get conspiratorial with Terry and ignore me when I explain his Russian is worse than mine. They demand an on the spot fine. The one guy pulls out of his pocket exactly what he wants us to give him in case we didn't understand.
We're not allowed to pay on the spot fines (aka bribes). If there is a legitimate ticket it has to be sent to the Consulate through the ministry of foreign affairs. Terry tries to tell them he's a diplomat, they just keep asking for the fine. He calls two different guys at the Consulate who do actually speak Russian to find out what to say to these guys. All the while he's holding his wallet - which contains his diplomatic ID card - in his hand. Finally, I pull the ID card out of his wallet and show the security guys, pointing directly to the part that says "USA Consulate" (in Russian). They say "bye-bye" (in English) and wave us away.
In Malta, being a diplomat didn't even get us discounts at the gym.