My friend Tanya spent part of the summer in New York, attending a Yiddish language summer school at NYU. At some point, she and her Belarusian friend, a grad student in Poland, decided to go to D.C. They took a bus from Chinatown (illegally operated by the Chinese and thus significantly cheaper) and landed in the capital's Chinese neighborhood in the middle of the night. They took a nap on a bench - dangerous, but they weren't aware of that then. The Belarusian guy wanted to see the Pentagon, so when the first joggers appeared, they asked for directions and eventually got there. Standing some 200 meters from the Pentagon, the Belarusian guy decided to take a picture. A police car appeared, blaring and all, and a black cop jumped out and demanded to see their IDs. Tanya's friend produced his, but when the cop asked for his birthdate, he suddenly realized he'd given him the wrong one, the one he was using to pay less when using public transportation in Poland. So he showed his second ID, with his real, older, age printed on it. The cop let them go in the end, even though he must've thought they were spies when they told him about all those foreign languages they could speak.
Tanya was so much better at telling this story, so much more fun. I wish she had a blog, but I can't talk her into starting one, unfortunately. She's got some truly amazing stories - like the one about observing the March 26 election at a prison outside Zhytomyr. Or the one from the third round of the 2004 election, when she was an observer in Kharkiv and sent one of the richest and most influential locals back home to get his passport. I really hope she'll write all these stories herself one day.
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