One of these two shaggy, red-faced women had just staggered through the train car with a handful of dirty, red-and-green road maps of Saint Petersburg and a long ribbon of lottery tickets. As she came toward my end of the car, dragging her feet haphazardly through the swaying car, she mumbled incoherently about the attributes of her maps. Her dirty brown coat was emblazoned with psychedelic insignia and tribal symbols.
-“She’s drunk out of her mind, she can barely walk,” my grandmother whispered to me when the woman passed us. For some strange reason I couldn’t take my eyes off her. She sat down in between two men on the last bench of the car and tried feebly to sell the maps to one of them. No success. I kept looking. She hung her head and collapsed onto her knees. Then she held her face in one hand and looked up after a moment. Her dirty face, framed by wisps of blond, relatively rare hair, was imprinted with fatigue. She looked out onto the long car and her eyes didn’t look to me like they were inebriated by alcohol. They were red, dim, and desperate. She was fighting down tears.
Then she got up and tried again, shuffling her feet wearily. The train began to slow down and as the doors opened onto another subway station she rushed out, meeting her counterpart from the next car, and damned us for our lack of consumer participation. The doors closed and both disappeared in the dim light of the Saint Petersburg metro.