I’ve long been fascinated by the tiny coincidences and happenstances that can often unexpectedly lead to major life changes.
When I was 11 or 12, I had a record album called “Learn Russian in Record Time”. I stuck with it at least long enough to learn the Cyrillic alphabet and some basic Russian phrases. That was a long time ago, and I’ve forgotten most of what I learned. But then at a couple Atheists Meetups, I met a woman who had been born and raised in the USSR, and that stirred up some long lost memories. I decided to try out my rudimentary Russian the next time I saw her.
It was a Tuesday evening not quite two weeks ago when I went to the latest Atheists Meetup. I was the second to arrive, and Natasha (not her real name) showed up shortly afterward. She was just the person I was hoping to see.
After the opening pleasantries, I asked: “Do you still speak Russian?” When she said yes I went on, “I studied Russian a little bit when I was young, and this is about the only thing I remember: Я не понимает по-русски.”
She replied: “It should be ‘понимаю. Я не понимаю по-русски.'”
“Я не понимаю по-русски,” I repeated.
“Yes. ‘I don’t understand Russian.'”
And the discussion then veered into other areas more appropriate to the Meetup’s topic. At one point she said, “Do any of you know someone who’s looking for a job?”
The rest of us shook our heads. “What sort of job?” I asked.
“No, I really can’t help you there.” She went on that it was a part time job, maybe 24 hours per week, working from home…and briefly I thought hey, that sounds like something I could do…but no, being retired for ten years, I wasn’t sure I wanted to go back to work. And there the matter rested.
But the next day I got to thinking, maybe I should have at least asked for more details. So I reached out to her on the Meetup site. A few days later she got back to me; the job was still open. So last Sunday morning she gave me an overview of the system, and after saying I needed to sleep on it, I texted her a few hours later to say I’d take the job. I started the following morning.
And all because I wanted to try out that one sentence of Russian that I mis-remembered from my youth.