Communal Living in Russia: Documents
Notes Left for Neighbors: A note about gas
  A note written about a neighbor who left the apartment, leaving a gas burner turned on and unlit.
  Basic Facts and Background
  When: May 2006

Where: A midsized apartment in the center of St. Petersburg.

What: The gas stoves in this apartment are lit using matches; these models do not have an electric spark which ignites when the valve is opened. If someone opens the valve and forgets to ignite the flame or if the flame is blown out by a draft, then the result is the situation described in the note.

Tatyana informed the person who wrote the note of her plans (to spend the night away from the apartment). As an explanation for Tatyana's absent-mindedness the person who wrote the note advances the hypothesis that she was drunk. All of these and other details find their way into the note, written for the purpose of alerting the addressee to the need to check the valve on the gas stove before she goes out.

Since the apartment has few residents (six or seven people) with varying schedules and they rarely encounter each other in the kitchen, the practice of leaving notes and signs makes sense. It is not quite clear why this note, with so many details, and with this content, is addressed specifically to one person, rather than taking the form of a sign written in large letters and posted on the kitchen wall or in the entryway about the need to check the gas valves on the stove before going out.

Compare with other missives from this same apartment: "Concert announcement" and an appeal not to hang underwear in the bathroom.

  Translation of the Russian Transcript
  [name deleted by editor]

This is what happened. Tatyana came in, I was in the bathroom and she says she has to get washed right away and leave. She left, I locked the door. Then I went into the kitchen, went over to my stove and I hear some kind of sound a constant soft noise coming from Tatyana's stove. I look nothing is burning I bent over and this is what I see: on the far right-hand burner is a pot of milk there's no flame, but the valve is up and there's a noise. I still don't understand what was going on. Did she forget to light the gas with a match or something?

See back.

As a matter of fact I have to leave too. All the windows are closed. Can you imagine how I felt? HORRIBLE! She said she wouldn't be around, that is, she was leaving for the night. I still don't understand what made me go over to the stove. What's going on with Tatyana? Maybe she was "under the influence"? But she left and said nothing to me about the gas. And I could have left too, I was all ready. It's now 2:45 pm. Saturday May 20.

[signature deleted by editor]

I opened the windows. Now before you leave you have to check the gas, if things like this are happening.

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