Festivus Airing of Grievances, 2018 version

In the famous words of Frank Constanza, “I’ve got a lotta problems with you people, and now, you’re going to hear about it!” As first seen in the legendary Seinfeld episode The Strike, Festivus is a force to be reckoned with. Gradually permeating society to where it’s become more than a plot device and something actually celebrated, its core tenant is that we air our grievances. We all have to start fresh for the new year, after all. While I sadly don’t have an aluminum pole nor someone that I want to undertake the Feats of Strength with, I do want to partake in the Airing of Grievances. Hence, today marks my personal act of airing out the grievances built up during the entirety of 2018.

For starters, not being able to travel as much as I want (i.e. more than twice) has been frustrating. I acknowledge the fact that yes, it is very much a first world problem, but there’s a very real issue of fatigue/burnout by constantly working all the time. Furthermore, I’ve either had the time or the money to go somewhere, but never at the same time. It admittedly is a bit self-absorbed here, but it does kinda suck that I’m stuck at home whereas everybody else is traveling; you do feel like your life really is boring and is confined to a small space of the world. Yay!

However, the times I did manage to travel had some obnoxious passengers who violated the unwritten code of how to behave on flights. The first incident took place on my midnight flight from Moscow to Madrid, which involved everybody’s favorite thing: manspreading. Look, the rule is that people with the window and isle seats let the person in the middle have the arm space. So, at four in the morning, I don’t want to be woken up by someone who a) didn’t have the ticket for that seat in the first place and b) decides to spread out and thus minimizing my personal space. It’s that damn simple. Oh yeah, I hope karma kicks that guy’s ass the next time he has to fly and has him seated in front of a crying baby. Moving on to the second situation, I had the honor of sitting in front of three incredibly loud German girls on our way to Volgograd. I get that we all want to pass the time, but if the roaring of the plane cannot drown out your yapping, congrats, you officially have roused everybody’s ire. Being young is no excuse for not toning things down, especially when we’re obviously trying to sleep.

Running into obnoxious tourists whose situational awareness only exists in theory is maddening. I’m not going to beat around the bush here, but these mainly consist of 60 year old Asian tourists who take selfies and pictures of basic things. Yes, they’re being stereotypical and yes, I understand that especially the center of Moscow is wonderful, but at the same time, be aware of your surroundings when people are trying to get by. Case in point: don’t stop in front of the metro escalators to take pictures of the ceiling in rush hour, especially when there’s only that particular escalator working. I hope you all got a good bunch of photos, because lots of pissed off commuters were going to riot if you didn’t.

Ever wanted to pay way the heck more for a hostel (one that obviously had been converted from a barracks of sort) that’s a whopping five miles (~8 km) from the center of the city? How about incredibly sultry older Russian receptionists who gave zero f*cks about customer service, and who banged open the door to your room at 6 in the morning to introduce a new resident? Yeah, I experienced all that while in Volgograd this summer. I want to be clear that the city, as easy as it was to see and do everything you sought out the do, was nice, but some people there obviously saw the money flashing in their eyes and decided to throw up something quick to profit from the influx of World Cup tourists. Oh and, god forbid you didn’t speak any Russian, because the ladies there acted like you were a moron if you didn’t speak fluently and without an accent; it makes you really appreciate the fact that people in Moscow and St. Petersburg can potentially try to meet you halfway. Anyways, that hostel was a rip off. Services promised on the site either were minimized or non-existent, surprise surprise. Tracking down the receptionists got to the point where you felt terrible for bothering them, and this was over the course of three nights! They literally had one bloody job to do. One! The final kick to the groin was how they adamantly insisted on ordering me a taxi instead of me using my handy Yandex Taxi app-they clearly were in cahoots with the driver to have me pay more. Because I didn’t have cash on me at the moment (seriously, what’s with Russians and their fascination with having exact change?), we had to make a detour to the local Sberbank so I could pay my chauffeur. This ended up with me almost getting my card stuck in the machine and running the risk of not getting through check in on time, all cause they wanted to nickel and dime me. I did get my card back, but not before really panicking. That wasn’t how I wanted to end my trip, as I was experiencing a high of watching a high class World Cup match, and that did put a damper on my time in a solid city.

In a case of reverse culture shock, having to pay sales tax in America was mindblowing. This does attest to how adopted I am to life in Russia, where the price you see is what you get, and I honestly had a hard time stepping away from that for a week. Case in point: I was feeling a bit nervous in the airport stores when I had to ensure that I had the right amount of change on me. This then led me to having to do calculations in my head about the exact change I needed, which, being lazy, is something that I really could do without.

When all is said and done, these are my grievances of travel this year. How about your own? Feel free to share yours in the comments!

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