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Soviet Life in Cabbages

Art. Soviet Life series. Internet. JPEG. 960×568.

Somewhat mandatory “Kolkhoz” duty. For those unfamiliar, “Kolkhoz” can be loosely translated as a Collective Farm. With one important addition that often half-drunk inhabitants of the farm couldn’t keep up with the farming itself. With no illegal migrant workers present (USSR didn’t have this problem), the government summoned people from the cities to help. In modern days, just imagine Google employees ordered by the City of Mountain View to spend next week working on the garlic fields in Gilroy, California.

In the region of the country where I grew up there was not much to grow to begin with, for exotic fruits and even tomatoes, zucchinis and strawberries couldn’t handle the cold. But cabbages, carrots and potatoes were omnipresent in the muddy fields, where many students, mathematicians, engineers, programmers, etc. had to spend their valuable moments of existence, aside from their less important professional activities …

One of these moments I suddenly realized I don’t want to be involved in this anymore, and as a result, decided not to come back to my work place the next day, therefore leaving Soviet aerospace industry for good.

But I have one secret so share. It’s been long enough that USSR and even the KGB did not survive. I assume the secret is not of a strategic importance anymore to the country that doesn’t exist, and even its successor. However, the latter could easily revive this practice.

The fields we once worked on, produced a way too many tons of potatoes than Soviet warehousing and production lines could handle. I was lucky and got promoted to the Senior Tractor Loader position. I saw first hand where our vegetable treasure is transported to.

The last useful place I can recall, after all warehouses were filled, was a factory that made potato ethanol, C2H5OH, 40% of which will be used to make cheap vodka. But that factory couldn’t handle our vigorous harvesting capacities either, and was quickly overloaded. We were told no to tell anyone, but drop loads of potato in the middle of forest and let it rot so no one else would see it.

We were also instructed to tell our colleagues in the field, yet to be promoted to a higher positions like mine, not to demonstrate the excellence in picking up each and every potato whenever there’s a chance, as long as the field would look «harvested» in general. This is to make Great Soviet 5 Year plan look Great Again. You know? It worked!

And that’s one of the biggest secrets of olden days I cannot keep any longer …

Special thanks for Meesha Viron for reminding of such a wonderful time …

PS: Original of this great Soviet Art painting is known to be by Vasily Pavlovich Borisenkov: In the Cabbage Fields, published in 1958, long before I was born