Minsk Journal: Day 3 – Tanks for the Memories

Well no way you could prepare for a day like today, nuh uh, no sir. It began really tame with a breakfast buffet and ended with all of us playing dress up and screaming “rawr” a lot.

Since I failed to mention it in my last post, I’m here to cover Wargaming.net’s 15th anniversary. The festivities are taking place tomorrow at a place called The Stalin Line, which is NOT a hipster club (I can just see Stefan from Saturday Night Live covering it if it was. “They have everything – tanks, helicopters, a Russian defector with nowhere to turn…”) The Stalin Line is a huge open area full of decommissioned WWII implements of destruction: tanks, planes, helicopters, bombs—it’s really something.

Naturally, when faced with something as awe-inspiring as a wall of Russian tanks, the first thing most of us wanted to do was climb on them. I myself could not resist the urge to have a Dr. Strangelove moment.

So long and thanks for all the fish.

Aside from goofing on the tanks, none of us really knew what we were doing today. The schedule said something about a Wargaming.net film but we had zero details. It turns out, WE were the movie. First off, we were taken to an area where we traded our regular shoes for rubber boots.

Das Boots

Then we headed out to an area with trenches and burned out tanks (which were smoking – they actually started fires near them) where a film crew was set up with a director yelling a lot in Russian. We were herded into a tent and handed Russian soldier uniforms. Still not really getting it, we went out into the open and learned we were all going to have an acting debut! We had to take turns sitting in a trench, pretending to write a letter to momma, then had to go to another area and act like we were in combat. I looked pretty smart in my uniform. (all except the boots, which looked like clown shoes on me, they were so big. I guess they weren’t expecting female soldiers)

It was all amusing but the grenade-throwing part was especially hee-larious because the damn grenade they gave us to toss weighed like, 10 lbs – way too much for my weak little chicken wings. The poor director’s assistant – he tried so hard. He explained to me in limited but earnest English that I needed to stop smiling and look angry (“this is war!”) and then pointed in the direction I was meant to throw the grenade. I nodded confidently, sure I could do it but then he took my glasses away saying, “Too modern.”

All smiles before my untimely death.

So. There I am, hunkered in a foxhole in clown-sized boots, unable to see more than three feet in front of me. “Action!” the A.D. Yells, and I scan the countryside angrily, spot my target, struggle to my huge-booted-feet and throw the grenade. It wobbles through the air like, three feet and goes “doink” right on the other side of the barbed wire, nearly hitting the cameraman. Yes, throwing like a girl killed the entire squadron. Ah well. At least the film crew had a good laugh.

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