Not in Bulgaria – Part 2

The second recent example of rules just not existing in the same way in Bulgaria as they do in the States relates to a major construction project going on behind Billa. They appear to be building a road that would intersect with the major street, Alexander Malinov Boulevard, and lead to the new Mladost 3 metro station that opened last year. It also seems like they may be laying some pipes and other groundwork that’s necessary for current and future construction projects and developments in the area—they’re clearly trying to build up the zone around the metro station. All of this make sense.

What also makes sense: When you have a major construction project going on, you block off the area from vehicular and pedestrian traffic, because there are huge machines moving stuff around, enormous trenches are being carved into the ground, the workers in the area are all wearing hard hats, etc.

Right?

By now you know the answer is: Not in Bulgaria.

Now, I have to backtrack for a minute, because this isn’t quite fair of me. They clearly TRIED to block the area off. Observe:

Yards and yards of fencing, cement blocks, torn up earth, tons of equipment and supplies lying around haphazardly—the whole thing screams, “Go away! No access!”

And in fact there was no access. For a while, anyway.

But then Bulgarians (ok, and maybe a few Americans) got tired of walking the long way around Billa. So people moved some of the fencing aside. They took advantage of when the gates were left open by the work crews at the end of the day. They started reclaiming the passage:

The funniest thing to me is, I think the construction company did try to re-block the area. People moved a fence a foot forward to create a rabbit hole; the company piled a whole bunch of bricks and sacks of cement in front of it so you couldn’t get through. People were sneaking through after the trucks left; the company started making sure to close and lock the gates. The construction work ripped up the entire area, leaving deep, intimidating trenches; people found the narrow goat paths that the workers had to leave for themselves in order to get out at day’s end. I wish I had thought to take more pictures of this earlier so that I could actually document the progression. It was like a battle of wills, back and forth, each side just trying to wear the other down.

The one thing the construction company never did, though, was actually REPRIMAND anyone who was, you know, JEOPARDIZING THEMSELVES AND THE ONGOING WORK by walking through a construction zone. People walked straight past bulldozers and got in the way of trucks, and nobody ever said a damn thing to anyone. It’s like with students: you yell at them good once, and they don’t do it again. Or at least not for a while. Not necessarily because they actually recognize the danger of it, but at least because they don’t want you to yell at them again. Especially in front of other people. Shame is a powerful tool. But if you don’t say ANYTHING, you can’t really expect people to read your mind and do what you want them to, even if what you want them to do is also the logical thing to do.

And that’s what’s happening behind Billa now:

Pedestrians just walk on through, and at least for the last week or so, it seems the construction workers have stopped trying backhanded ways to get them to stop. They’ve just given up. Easier to complete heavy-duty construction work with people scrambling in and out of your ditches and across your work zone than to try to grind down the inexorable determination of the Bulgarian people not to let any kind of rules or sense or logic get in the way of an everyday convenience. Not in our house. Not in Bulgaria.

And of course I totally walk through it, too. How do you think I got all the pictures?

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