The day after my dog treats fiasco, I had several hours of meetings to review all of the paperwork I had done the previous day. I was there, but it really didn’t matter whether or not I was because, once again, I had no idea what anyone was talking about. I was jetlagged, confused and wondering just what in the world I was doing in this cold, strange place.
Our fertility service representative and the driver – my man Bogdan, as I’d come to call him by the time all of this was over – dropped me off at my hotel as it got dark. I trudged through the snow in the parking lot, shoulders slumped. It was only about 5:00, but I was ready to fall asleep. I had already figured out that it was best to just keep my eyes down as I walked, so I made my way through the entrance and towards the elevator to my room.
Just then, I heard a magical, magical sound. It was a bellman. He said to me, in glorious fashion, “Good evening, sir.”
It was extremely broken English. Clearly, it was a young guy who was studying the language and trying it out, but I didn’t care – I COULD SORTA COMMUNICATE WITH SOMEONE! I had so many questions. Words were racing through my head. I stumbled through a million different thoughts and then, because I was starving, said, “Um… where can a guy get a pizza around here?” I held out some hryvnias for him, waving them like a crazy person.
Pizza? That’s all I could come up with? He told me about a place down the hill and basically described the sign to look for outside, since it wasn’t obvious as you looked at it from the street. Yeah, I had already learned that lesson. I gave him a nice tip.
I wasted no time in walking to the pizza place, and sure enough, there it was, only about 5 minutes from my hotel. Amazing what you can accomplish when you talk to people. I walked in, sat down and once again realized that looking at the menu was a waste of time.
The server came up to me, and I made a beer-drinking motion with my hand that she seemed to understand. I made a big circle with my arms, hoping to indicate a large pizza. I nodded hopefully at her, and she responded positively. I pulled out my phone and, somehow getting online, pulled up photos of Italian sausage, mushrooms, and pepperoni separately. She nodded each time. I was on a roll. My order was in and I was ready for my beer.
It was just then that I realized I really had to pee. No sweat. I was fitting right in here in Kyiv. I was basically a local now after two positive interactions in a row. I saw a doorway near the back of the place and figured that was where I needed to go.
I was right. The problem was that when I found the bathrooms, this is what I saw:
Which one? Do I dare guess? What if I’m wrong? Do they both stand for Water Closet? No, dummy - the signs here aren't written in English acronyms. I’m pretty sure a man walking into a women’s bathroom here is a pretty big problem, so I had better not be wrong. I decided to wait until someone else got up to use the bathroom, and I’d choose accordingly. The problem with that was no one did. My need to pee got more intense.
Finally, I had no choice. I had to do something. I chose the door on the left. There was no urinal in there, but since all norms I was used to were out the window, I didn’t think anything of it. I was just glad to be done with this short ordeal.
Just then, to my horror, I heard the door start to rattle. This was it. I'd find out if I was right or wrong, and hopefully I wouldn't be arrested. I opened the door and I encountered a lady who was waiting to use it. The glare she shot at me was one that’ll be hard to forget. I started to explain myself, but… you get it. Waste of time. I bowed my head a little bit and skulked back to my table.
At least my beer was waiting for me. Head in hand, I drank my beer and sat there, wondering what would happen next. So far on the trip? Beer - 2 for 2. Food - 1 for 2. Public bathroom - 0 for 1.