My colleague John had been giving me a hard time about having never caught a car. You have to do it at least once before you go, he said. My hesitancy to do so in the past can be put down to two factors: my clumsiness in using large numbers (and thus my inability to negotiate a price in Russian) and the potential awkwardness of riding in complete stranger's car, not knowing the proper etiquette for the situation.
So, the other day, John, Jared, and I decided to go hang out after school at Petrogradskaya (a different district of the city from the school) and the fastest way was to catch a car. Jared grew up here in St. Pete and is a veteran of catching cars; John has been doing it since the mid-90's. In order for me to get the proper experience, John only held out his arm to try and catch one of the old beat up Ladas. Within about 2 minutes an old beat up Lada Zhiguli stopped and the driver opened up the door and asked where we were heading. John told him and agreed to 300 rubles (about $9). The front passenger seat wasn't bolted down and gave John a bit of a start when he got in; the windshield was on it's last legs after sustaining some pretty extensive cracks; no seat belts in the back seat. In short, a proper Zhiguli, a proper experience for the first time catching a car. The driver occasionally spoke on his cell phone, but never spoke a single word to us. At first I didn't know if it was rude to speak in English with John and Jared, but it became apparent that we were nothing more than cargo, so we went for it. Apparently, it's completely normal to not exchange a single word and completely normal to have your ear talked off.
Catching a car really wasn't that big of a deal. In fact, it's main significance was that it was one more thing to cross of my things to do before I leave Russian at the end of May. The only thing left on my list is to see a ballet at the Mariinsky Theatre, but I'm going to take Elizabeth on the 19th to see some Stravinsky and Rimsky-Korsakov pieces.