Which makes me think of a story… Everything makes me think of a story. … about three dogs: an American dog, a Polish dog and a Russian dog. They are all having a visit, and the American dog was telling them how things were in his country. He said, “You know, you bark… after you bark long enough, then somebody comes along, gives you some meat.” And the polish dog said, “What’s meat?” And the Russian dog says, “What’s bark?”
I heard one about a fellow who went to the KGB to report that he lost his parrot. The KGB asked him why he was bothering them. Why didn’t he just report it to the local police. “Well,” he answered, “I just wanted you to know that I don’t agree with a thing my parrot has to say.”
One of the recent ones that I heard was about the man walking along the street at night, Moscow, Soviet soldier called to him to halt, he started to run, the soldier shot him. Another man said, “Why did you do that?” “Well,” he said, “Curfew.” “Well,” he said, “It isn’t curfew yet.” “I know, he is a friend of mine. I know where he lives. He couldn’t have made it.”
I’ve been collecting stories that are told in the Soviet Union by their people among themselves, which reveal they’ve got a great sense of humor, but they’ve also got a pretty cynical attitude toward their system. And I told this when… (well, Bill, you’ll have to hear this again), I told this in the car. I didn’t tell this one to Gorbachev.
You know, there’s a ten-year delay in the Soviet Union of delivery of an automobile, and only one out of seven families in the Soviet Union own automobiles.
There’s a ten-year wait, and you go through quite a process when you are ready to buy, and then you put up the money in advance. And this happened to a fella. And this is their story that they tell, their joke… that this man, he laid down his money. And then the fella who was in charge tells him, “Okay, come back in ten years and get your car.” And he said, “Morning or afternoon?”
And … and the fella behind the cars said, “Well, ten years from now what difference does it make?” And he said, “Well, the plumber is coming in the morning.”
You know, less than one family out of seven in the Soviet Union owns an automobile. Most of the automobiles are driven by bureaucrats. The government furnishes them, and the drivers and so forth. So an order went out one day to the police that anyone caught speeding , anyone, no matter who, gets a ticket.
Well, Gorbachev came out of his country home, his dacha. He was late getting to the Kremlin. There was his limousine and driver waiting. He told the driver to get into the back seat — he’d drive.. and down the road he went… And they pass two motorcycle cops. One took out after him. And pretty soon he is back with his buddy. And his buddy says, “Well, did you give him a ticket?” And he said, “No.” “What,” he said, “Why not?” “Oh,” he said, ” He’s too important.” “Well,” he said, “We are told to give anybody a ticket, no matter who it is!” “Oh,” he says, “No, no,” he says, “This was… I couldn’t.” “But who was it?” He said, “I couldn’t recognize him. But his driver was Gorbachev.”