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The Great Fan Shortage of 2010

August 11, 2010

While many in Europe are talking about the great 2010 Northern Hemisphere heat wave of summer 2010, which has been recorded as the warmest ever April-June period that we know of, not to mention the July and August waves, what they are not mentioning is the great fan shortage here in Eastern Europe.

I recently arrived in Kyiv and upon arrival I noticed my apartment was likely well over 90 degrees inside. The natural thing to do in this situation is to purchase a fan, otherwise known as вентилятор in Russian. When I asked at the local El’dorado store (your go-to place for home “tekhnika”) for a fan, I was laughed at by a store employee. I was told that fans were available at any El’dorado location, not to mention the rest of Kyiv for that matter. Perhaps, I was told, I could find one at a flea market. I then inquired my friend in Rivne (in Western Ukraine) whether they had fans there – alas no fans in Rivne. Then I wrote a buddy in Moscow…fans hadn’t been seen in stores for the last month and the month before that they were scarce.

Enjoying the fountain.

So if my calculations are correct – from Rivne to Moscow – a stretch of roughly 200km – you cannot buy a fan during the hottest summer in seventy years or so in Eastern Europe. Now I could be wrong, but I thought such a thing as “supply and demand” existed in market economies (though technically supply and demand is more about price equilibrium than a law about somehow supply actually appearing). There is demand for fans – it’s really, really fucking hot in my apartment and I can imagine a few other Ukrainians are hot too, but there is no supply for what I’m told is months now – I’m not sure what the missing piece is in this puzzle, but let me tell you, if you would like to make money quick – fly in a few thousand fans to Kyiv and starting selling on street corners and you’ll be rich in no time.

At least in Soviet times, you could wait in a line with the pretense that you’d somehow/someday receive the product you desperately needed. And better yet you had a concrete entity at which you could direct your anger when that fan did not materialize (pun intended): the state. Now you just get laughed at by pubescent boys in brightly lit, shitty department stores and have to walk all the way back to your hotboxed Soviet apartment building with your hope shattered in millions of little pieces smaller than the sweat dripping off your brow. I suppose I’ll always remember the great fan shortage of summer 2010 – one of many, many market travesties to come in Eastern Europe.

PS More posts to come soon – I have not forgotten about the blog. I hope all 9 readers haven’t forgotten either.

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