Right now we're in the process of transferring out visas over to official work permits. It's a lengthy and convoluted legal process that I have no hope of understanding. Praise God for Keith Beyar, Sergei Volkov and some of the others who are dealing with all this.
However, I do have a part to play. In order to get a work permit, I need to be medically certified as healthy and able to work by the Russian government. That makes sense. They don't want me spreading crazy diseases through their work force. The fun part comes in actually acquiring said medical permissions. Here's a little run down of what we've had to do (by “we” I mean everyone on the team except the wives who don't actually get permits but “accompanying spouse visas”):
Day 1: We came into the country (from Ukraine) on a pre-work permit visa and get it registered with our organization. Then go and start the medical stuff in the afternoon. We didn't realize that the part of the medical office we needed closes at 4pm. Oh well, try again tomorrow.
Day 2: We gave blood to test for AIDs and probably other stuff too. The ladies were really kind. I don't mean that they just smiled, they were more like kindergarten teacher kind. Used to dealing with foreigners she spoke to me like I was a two-year-old. “Now, you go and sit over there” -pointing to a chair- “go on, right over there,” her voice lilting as if she were talking to a favorite cat. I didn't mind, I'm over being offended at condescension. I feel like a toddler in this culture sometimes so I don't mind getting treated like one every once in a while.
Day 3: A couple days after giving blood we go and pick up the results (I don't have AIDs!) and find the next building about a 20-minute walk away. Why they can't be in the same place I have no idea. The next test is a drug test, but with a twist: It's an interview.
“Where are you coming from looking so handsome?” says the grey haired, portly, and smiling nurse.
“Um...” I respond intelligently. Is this just more condescension or am I looking especially good today? “Colorado” I've decided that I am, in fact, looking pretty good today.
“Do you like the heat in Moscow?” She asks, still smiling.
I'm feeling pretty good about myself now so I try to dazzle with my language ability. “Heat ok, but heat and smoke together no good.”
“Have you every done drugs?”
“No.” Ok, perhaps she was just catching me off guard with the banter to get the real answer out of me.
The interview ended. The piece of paper got it's stamp in another office and we were done with this step.
Day 4: We had to be there (a completely different office) at 8am and we left early to go find some urine analysis containers. All the pharmacies were closed and we showed up without the required jars and much apprehension.
The first step was a finger prick blood test. Knowing that the urine test was next I asked the lady taking blood where I could find some urine analysis containers.
“Cross the street,” she said “and buy a small bottle of water. Drink the water, go in the bottle, and turn it in to urine analysis.”
So we did. Bon Aqua I think. Then we gave them the the nice lady at urine analysis.
“Good job!” she cooed at us as she unscrewed the tops of the bottles “very well done!”
If you have a problem with self-esteem, but are still able to pee in a water bottle, getting a Russian work permit just might be the thing you need.
Tuberculosis x-rays finished our day of fun. Now we go back Friday to get the results, take it to yet another building and get our official certificate.