Oh, if only I didn’t have to take photos of Maidan Nezalezhnosti for this blog, then maybe people wouldn’t recognize me as a tourist. But too late, a girl with two pigeons is already approaching. She asks where I am from.
“From Germany,” I reply, although I should know better.
“Oh, Germany! From Berlin, Hamburg or Munich?”
I graciously explain that Germany has other cities and regions as well, mainly to get her off the script. But she reels off her program like a robot, places the pigeons on my arm, takes my camera and snaps a few photos.
Her colleague joins us, he has two stupid pigeons too. “Where are you from?” “From Germany.” “Oh, Germany! From Berlin, Hamburg or Munich?” They all seem to work for the same pigeon company which is not big on creativity. He adds his two pigeons to the two already unwanted pigeons.
The girl is becoming even more annoying, telling me to smile and to do this and that. People who are like robots always want other people to act like robots, too. You probably know this from work or from the army. For the only reason that the girl is holding my camera, I am not throwing the pigeons into the air, showing them that they can fly away. After all, we are on Independence Square.
As the two of them remove the pigeons and hand me back the camera, they disclose the motive behind the stunt. It is, as the experienced globetrotters among you might have already guessed, all about money. “Children usually give 200 hryvnas, adults 300 hryvnas”. That would be 11.50 €, really too much for something I neither asked for, nor need.
I offer 50 hryvnas to each of the pigeon breeders. “But that’s only 2 €,” the girl kindly explains to me and to the readers of my blog. “I am working on commission here, I don’t have any fixed salary. I am a student,” she laments with a facial expression so full of grief as if Russia had just nipped off part of her country.
“I am a student too,” I reply and show, as the wallet is already open, my student card, not meeting any of the expected camaraderie. “But you are an old man,” the boy replies, obviously not thinking too highly of the idea of life-long learning.
“What are you studying?”, the girl asks.
“History. That’s actually why I came to this square: to take a look and to read all the information panels,” I say, hoping that she will realize how much she and her columbidaeic buffoonery are inconveniencing me.
“I am studying medicine.” Well, she should have studied law instead. Then, she would know that placing pigeons on the heads of strangers dos not constitute a case of Article 205 paragraph 3 of the Ukrainian Civil Code, therefore not establishing any contractual basis for remuneration.
In the end, she takes the 50 hryvnas. The boy proudly declines them. For that, one of the pigeons will probably end up in the pot tonight.