Walk Down Misery Street

While patrolling the empty corridor I started singing my favorite songs. “Yesterda-a-ay, all my troubles seemed so far awa-a-ay…” “Mama-a, I just killed a ma-an…”

I recalled the times when I was crazy about Western rock music as a teenager in Russia. I often visited the record store where they sold vinyl records and CDs with patriotic Russian songs. Usually there were not a lot of visitors, but outside the store were always scalpers and music fanatics, modestly holding cheap burlap sacks in their hands, with recordings from the Beatles, the Doors, and Queen concerts. The records and discs were sold or exchanged.

Close by in the alley, there were undercover policemen closely watching the sellers of western propaganda. Sometimes they staged raids, taking everyone to the police station (the sellers and the buyers). I was also arrested a few times and taken to the police station, and then my parents and school’s principle were informed that I am a reckless student and not a Russian patriot, but a traitor to my homeland.

My nostalgic memories were interrupted by screams into the walkie-talkie:

“First floor! Wake up! What is the situation there?” It was the shift supervisor returning me to reality, and in the blink of an eye I mentally transported from the record store in Russia to the first-floor supermarket in the Time Warner skyscraper in New York.

“Everything is ok here. Calm and quiet.”

Upon finishing my evening shift, I got into the subway and got home around 1:30 at night. The next morning, having slept for five hours, I traveled to Queens, to the Institute for Substance Abuse Counseling for my first class.




When I first crossed the threshold of the auditorium and quietly took a seat, I felt baffled. There was a lecture going on. I was expecting to see a room full of thoughtful, enlightened individuals brought here, like me, by a noble desire to do good and save the lost.