Sunday, November 27, 2011

down for the count...but recovering

Arbidol. Pricey, but this is the best thing to take if you're starting to get sick. Got to take it within the first 24-48 hours though!
Came down with an icky cold, which is giving me a chance to evaluate Ukraine's pharmaceutical industry and drug stores. Here's a hint:
Strepsils (Стрепсилс). Good stuff.
This appears to work...if you wait like 4 hours!
Pharmasitron: looks a little sketchy when you open the package but wow, it's effective!
I was kind of excited to check out the drug stores, thinking "I bet they have some really good stuff here!" But I was mistaken. They may have some good stuff, but it's hard to get past the guardians of the sacred shelves. In fact, it was rather like this conversation about pizza.
Me: Do you have any Pharmasitron?
Pharmacist: Here.
Me: Will this help me sleep? (Это помогает спать?)
Pharmacist: looks at me like I'm an idiot. It's cold medicine.
Me. If I take it in the morning, will I feel sleepy? (Если я принимаю это утром, буду я сонная?)
Pharmacist: gives me the same look. It's cold medicine.
Me: sigh. Okay. I'll take it.
what an average Ukrainian pharmacy looks like
Then came the hard part: trying to get some time off work. My biggest pet peeve is jobs that give you a guilt trip about being sick. It makes me feel like a cog in a machine- "It doesn't matter if you're sick, you still need to come in anyways." This usually isn't because you're an important worker, it's instead because you're doing performing some menial repetitive task and the factory line would grind to a halt without you. Plus, it's always demeaning to have to verify that you're actually ill. Any human being knows when they're ill- they don't need a second opinion, thank you very much.
So here's the song and dance that ensued:
First Day:
Me: I'm coming down with something.
Work: There's another teacher who may or may not be actually ill but is definitely taking the day off, so we're short-staffed. It would be awesome if you could teach at 6 PM. We'll find someone to cover the 4 PM class.
Me: Okay
The Next Day:
Me: I'm really feeling ill today. Unfortunately I won't be able to make it in.
Work: Hmmmm..... the other teacher is still out so we're short-staffed again. What if we find someone to take your first class? It would be awesome if you could teach the other two?
Me: I feel like a walking germbag.
Work: What if we find someone to cover your third class also? It would be awesome if you could teach the second class?
Me:, sorry.
Work: It's just 2 hours.....?
Me: No, sorry. I'm so gross right now.
Work: What are your symptoms? We'll give you some medicine.
Me: I don't need medicine. I need rest.
Work: What if we send a taxi to your door to pick you up so that you don't have to breathe in the cold night air?
Me: No, sorry, I'm pretty sick.
Work: Do you think you will perhaps feel a little bit better in 5 1/2 hours?
Me: I highly doubt it, but I suppose it is possible.
Work: Let's plan on sending a taxi for you in 5 1/2 hours.
Me: No, I think that's not a good idea. How about we reschedule my second class for tomorrow evening?
Work: Rescheduling classes makes us look unprofessional.
Me: So does forcing labor out of sick teachers.
Work: Well, I suppose we can find someone to cover your other class.
Me: Thank you.

So I actually got the day off, miracle of miracles. I like my school (and I forgive them a lot after realizing certain things are just universal) but I yearn for a job where a sick day is not a cause for major alarm.

Despite feeling sick the first day, we made a morning trip to the OVIR (passport control) office because tick tock, my 90 days are up this weekend. At the first office we waited in line, got sent to another room, found a bored 25-year-old girl sitting alone behind a desk, got told that my visa is "good for a year, what's the problem? oh, I see, we don't deal with that here", got sent to another OVIR office across town, took a taxi there to try to save time, got caught up in road construction and traffic, finally found the office, got misdirected and then redirected by a bored security guard, found a room with women literally entering and exiting every 3 seconds, finally squeezed in, chaos inside, got shooed out by a woman telling us to look at the schedule on the door while she walked away (despite her reluctance to tell us anything, Denis kept following her down the hall and finally got some actual info out of her once she got exasperated enough), looked at the schedule on the door, discovered it's open 2 days a week for just a couple of hours, turned around, went home.

I'm very proud of us, that's pretty productive for the first trip! Right now I'm estimating it will take a total of 7 visits to find out what we want to know.


  1. My work keeps score on your absences and after 3 in a rolling year you get called in. After 5 or 6, you get a written warrning. I haven't gotten this far. And I think at 10 you are in steps of discipline and somewhere at that point you can be let go. Yes it has happened, people get escorted out.

  2. Yikes, Vesna! You can only get sick 3 times before they call you in? Or are sick days counted differently? I guess I got spoiled at my last job with the refugee resettlement agency....they had a really liberal attendance policy. Not that I was sick very often, but it was just nice to know you could stay home to recover and not stress about missing that day of work.