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Filker's note: All this (and more) really happened, in early October 2007, when I was invited by the Russian Academy of Science to join in the Sputnik 50th Anniversary celebrations.
Of a buffet breakfast in Moscow town
I would like to sing you a song.
Though the food was free,
Or supposed to be,
'Twas a breakfast where everything went wrong.
Reaching Hotel Sputnik at 1 AM
With my reservation in hand,
Night clerk checks me in,
Says, "Your days begin
With free breakfast." Or so I understand.
Early morning down in the restaurant
Brings a rather unwelcome twist.
Hostess asks my name.
Though she's not to blame,
She says, "Sorry, you are not on the list."
Upstairs, I show desk clerk my check-in card,
Saying that my breakfast is free.
She takes Sharpie pen,
Says "I'll fix it," then
Crosses words out, and hands card back to me.
Have eight hundred Rubles in cash on hand,
So go back downstairs, what the hell.
It is food I want,
Pay for breakfast, and finally all is well.
Second morning, same thing. I give my name,
They say I am not on the list.
"Well, no shit," I say.
"I will simply pay."
"But we do not take Rubles," they insist.
I, by now, am hungry, but not deterred.
Wonder, "How can this be so hard?"
I complain and curse,
Reach into my purse,
Pay for breakfast with trusty MasterCard.
Morning number three, a familiar act.
Not on list. No Rubles. No shit.
I take plastic out.
"We don't take," they shout,
So upon a new idea I hit.
Upstairs, give the desk clerk my credit card.
"Get me breakfast now," I insist.
I explain my want,
Clerk calls restaurant,
And, voila, I now am on the list!
Morning number four brings a new surprise:
Cards not taken upstairs or down.
But a bard must eat,
Not accept defeat.
"Pay with Rubles," clerk tells me with a frown.
Here we go again. Hostess asks my name,
Tells me I am not on the list.
Yes, I know, I say,
Just like yesterday.
Only now I'm starting to get pissed.
Hotel doesn't now even know my name,
Though they did on day number five.
With my Rubles gone
(Brought too few along)
How am I to keep myself alive?
Euros, Dollars nyet, only Rubles cash,
And not even those half the time.
Arbitrary rules -
They must think us fools.
What can tourists do but frown and whine?
Still another option is left to me:
Currency exchange down the block
Not too far away,
Twenty-four a day
Says the sign. Except the door is locked.
This is how my Moscow vacation ends:
No free breakfast, all seven days.
Mother Russia's learned,
I have now observed,
Just how capitalism truly pays!
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this page last updated 28 May 2009