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Home Zoshchenko's Feuilleton Happy New Year - translation

Happy New Year - translation

1939

Happy New Year

Allow us to congratulate you on the New Year, respected citizens.

We wish you, so to speak, every blessing. We tenderly thank you for those wishes that you mentally express on our behalf.

And allow us on the occasion of the New Year to tell you one instructive story.

Not without second thoughts did we save this little story for the New Year.

The desire to warn respected citizens away from similar occurrences in the upcoming year—this is what moves us in our intention to tell upon the New Year about this fact.

Briefly speaking, at a certain institution there suddenly appeared a new director.

The former boss went on vacation. Then somewhere, something related to his affairs held him up.

Of course, rumors started at the institution: something like, where in the world is he;  something like, didn’t they demote him to another, much lower position, or in general, what’s up with him?

And then a new boss appears at this institution.

And then a general meeting takes place at which the public expresses their thoughts, feelings, and wishes.

And one of the employees comes to the podium and also speaks about something: he declares and expresses his hopes.

And in the fervor of his speech he flings blame onto the former management, saying something like they worked rather poorly, they were not capable, they bungled the business.

With these words, the orator seized with his eyes upon the face of the new director, desiring to read whether he had protected himself enough to speak this way and whether he was causing confusion.

But he sees that the director is nodding his head at him affirmatively, as if saying: correct, good for you, you figured out what had to be said, unlike the others who talked nonsense.

Seeing such a blessing from the boss, the zealous orator began to further deepen and develop his thought.

So he develops this thought of his and sees that the director every now and then nods his head at him, as if saying: good for you, dog, you’re getting it right.

And seeing such meaningful signs, our orator completely, as they say, flaked out with pride and was carried on the wings of his own fantasy to nebulous distances, saying that such people as the former director not only should be thrown out on their asses, but should be sent to jail and so on.

Then two more orators come to the podium, and looking at the director, who sadly and affirmatively nods his head, they further add a couple of things, saying that only the new management is capable of extracting the institution from that morass into which it was led by the former boss.

And then the director himself comes up to the podium and expresses his indignation regarding the speeches of the three previous orators. He says that, on the contrary, the former director was on a lofty plane, that it was precisely he who led the institution out onto the high road, and at the present time he has an even more difficult and higher position.  And he is managing this business with no small success.

And then everyone looks with great astonishment at the director. And everyone sees that now and then he is nodding his head. And now everyone begins to understand that the new director has something like a nervous tic.

Moreover, if he is calm, he twitches his head only rarely, but the more nervous he gets, the more often he nods his head.

A doctor of this institution who is present in the auditorium quietly gives his scientific clarifications to his neighbors.

The neighbors pass on the doctor’s diagnosis to those surrounding them, and soon the entire auditorium understands what happened.

The three previous orators look at the director with sorrow.

One of them tries to deliver a speech from his seat, shouting that he was misunderstood.

But the director closes the meeting.