Skip to main content

Day of The Veterans of the Customs Service /День ветеранов таможенной службы: Way Too Much Money in the Discretionary Fund

By May 29, 2010May 29th, 2017Uncategorized

This has been a busy week.

Russian Customs, Veterans of Customs Service, Russia, Jennifer Eremeeva

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

There has been a terrible storm in our part of New England, the power was out at Velvet’s school for three days, which was distressing, but there was very little I could do about that, being, as I was, in the City of Brotherly Love worshiping at the John Dickerson shrine: my family of origin + wonderful brother-in-law attended the Slate Political Gabfest’s Live Philly Gabfest, and were lucky enough to score tickets to the reception beforehand where we met John Dickerson and his cohorts Emily Bazelon and David Plotz!   It was amazing!  But the catch-up has been intense. I’m busy: Velvet and I are getting ready to head back to Moscow, these Russian holidays don’t let up until Tuesday, at which point I have a column due about okroshka of all things, and where I will find kvass in Northampton is anyone’s guess.  The only thing I can say I have going for me is that, through the direct intervention of the Almighty, there isn’t a horse show this weekend.   It seems, however, that this weekend is Memorial Day, which, not being a Russian holiday, I hadn’t clocked nor factored into the logistics of plowing through my To-Do list.  Seems I won’t be able to call in my refill for Ambien on Monday and I don’t like to let things like that slide.

On top of all of this…we have Day of the Veterans of the Custom’s Service.

There are moments when I feel the Russians can go a little bit overboard and today is certainly one of those days.   Frankly speaking, as we’ve learned Russians are wont to say, I could do without Day of the Veterans of the Customs Service, which is not to be confused with Day of the Customs Workers, happening later in the year.  Those people are the ones actually doing the job.  Today’s crowd is the people who used to, but are no longer working for the Custom’s Service in Russia. So, today, we have a whole bunch of Retired Customs Officers running around congratulating one another.

I have nothing to declare but my genius

~ Oscar Wilde

I call that a Bit Much.   I have lots of great stories about Customs…but I don’t want to squander them today on the people who used to work for the Customs.  I’m already resigned to the fact that I will have to use the Oscar Wilde quote again, which seems a shame.   I fail to see why we should pander to this particular crowd. I don’t mind having a day for each naval fleet and a few extra naval-related events coming down the pipeline.  I get the wisdom of having Teacher’s Day and then Day Care Providers Day…I’m all for that distinction.  I note there isn’t a day of Retired Code Crackers, or a day of Put Out To Pasture Firemen…so I don’t understand why there is a day set aside for some Past Their Sell By Date Customs’ Officers.  And, my research suggests, this is a day given over to full-throttle Soviet-style bacchanalia: lavish cheesy concerts,
Josef Kabzon, Russia’s Tom Jones, mayonnaise fueled banquets; vodka waterfalls, over-the-top award ceremonies, and, get this…annual bonuses.

This crowd seems to have way, way, way too much sloshing around in their discretionary funds.

And does that amaze, shock and awe any of us?

Apparently, this holiday, which was ratified in 1999, that bumper year for Russian holidays, came about by “numerous requests from the veterans of the Customs’ Service to achieve the goal of preserving the ties and traditions down the generations of Customs’ employees.”

I’m sure that the majority of my readers will agree:  if there are traditions that do not bear preserving and maintaining, those of the Russian Customs Service are right up there with Stalin’s NKVD, Ivan The Terrible’s Oprichnina, and the late, but not-at-all lamented Russian Economic Forum.  These people do not increase the sum total of human happiness.   They aren’t curing cancer, or solving Global Warming (which, as we will learn next week, Russians believe is American propaganda) they haven’t solved the traffic problem in Russia, and, frankly speaking, it’s people like them, and those snotty-nosed 15-year old bartenders who insist that a Martini is made out of Martini & Rossi and orange juice instead of Bombay Sapphire and olives, who keep Russia out of the WTO.

I do not want to appear mean-spirited or anti-Customs, and we certainly are an equal opportunity holiday employer here at The Stunt, so I want to wish all those Veterans of the Customs Service a very happy professional holiday, which you may not quite deserve, but you got, so enjoy…knock yourselves out.


Dear Reader:

Tell me honestly – have you ever had a positive experience with any of the Veterans of the Russian Customs’ Service?   Are you planning a lavish dinner tonight to celebrate their “profpraznik” which is Russian slang for “professional holiday?” Do you think this one is just Bit Much?  Do you have any idea of where to find kvas in the Pioneer Valley?   If so, leave a comment in solidarity by clicking the comment button below!  And thanks, as always, for stopping by.


  • Too many Days! Too many Days! Can we not have the Day of Nothing and No One? Or the Great Anniversary of It Never Happened?? Meantime, I hope you found your kvass, and I hope you find your Ambien even more. Buon Riposo…

  • Natalie says:

    Hi! Though I can’t say that I’ve had a positive experience with a veteran of the Russian Customs Service, I just wanted to tell you that I discovered your blog recently (I think via The Beet Goes On) and I absolutely adore it. Would you do me a favor and send me an email? I have a couple of questions I’d like to ask you. (I’m assuming that you can see my email address with the comment since I had to put it in the blank spot below to comment…) Thanks.

  • phew! i got tired just reading all of that! it sounds like a bit much, indeed. but i love the honoring, celebrating, dinner-ing (:)) in lieu of forgetting and doing…well, nothing.
    on a side note, my dad was born in leningrad and i think would absolutely adore your writing (like i do). i’m sending your link to him and i expect it to go right around his group of friends (many of whom have since emigrated to similar parts of the states! how great is that that they’ve reconnected after so many years?!)
    all the best!

  • Natalie: I’m afraid I can’t see your e mail, but please feel free to e mail me your questions at herringunderfurcoat “at” “gmail” “dot” “com” and I’ll be happy to respond! I’m so pleased you wandered over here…don’t you think the Beet is a scream????

  • MM – thanks again for your kind words. I’d actually like to put your blog on a new blog roll I’m putting together…I really enjoyed my romp through your blog, and I know some of my good buddies would too. thank you so much for your kind comment!

  • Elizabeth Sullivan says:

    Would you like the Veterans of the Customs Service to get
    a) annual bonuses
    b) immunity from future prosecution for crimes committed whilst employees of the customs service?
    Given that the customs service is a joke (you could do a month’s blog on people stories of their dealings with Russian customs), I suppose current employees have to continue to pay off former employees since they know where all the bodies are buried.
    Going to the US next month. Am stocking up on Nutella just as you advised.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.