Privet to you too, moi Afrikanzki druzei
At first I was a little confused. The lady behind the counter would not take my money. I wanted that fancy little Danish, or since it was a French bakery, the pastry, and she had it in her hand, but she refused the usual cash for product exchange. Slowly, I realized I should pay her friend at the cashier. So I did and a receipt I received. That’s when the lady snapped the receipt out of my hand and gave me my dessert, and I realized I was dealing with the Soviet three-line system.
Devised by some customer-hating apparatchik, the three-line system strives to laborize and extended what should be an efficient and quick purchasing system. In Soviet times, and in this French-style bakery in Dakar, you first pick out your goods. Then the assistant gives you a slip with the names, prices, and amounts of your desired. You give this and the right money to the cashier who gives you a receipt, which you return to the assistant who finally gives you your goods.
At first I thought this was some isolated activity and didn’t really make the connection. Then, when checking into Hotel Ngor/Diorama, I noticed that I was given a room key on a long wooden bob. A hotel key that I was expected to return whenever I left the hotel. Getting to my room, quite luxurious room, I might add, I found that my key and door were direct imports from Russia.
Now I haven’t found a ‘Made in Russia’ stamp yet, but if you threw a drunk Yuri or Boris on a plane, gave him a key and he had to open my hotel door with a hangover, he would swear he was entering his own apartment. And if there wasn’t a breathtaking ocean view, it really could be his apartment on the inside, with even a separate room for the toilet, just like Moscow
I only wonder what is the next Sovietism to show up…