Yesterday, I took a Russian friend to the airport. She was returning to Moscow. Before boarding her flight, while she was putting away her ticket and passport, she told me this story, which somehow seemed very Russian:
There once was a officer in the Soviet army. He was beginning his career, which seemed very bright. He had done well in school, and was a member of the Communist Party. The future stretched in front of him. Everything was possible. Perhaps he would become a general. Then, one day, he didn't know how it happened, he misplaced his Party card. He had to show it, and when he went through his pockets, it was gone.
Losing your Party card was a very serious offense in the USSR. It was interpreted to mean that you didn't care enough about the Party to know where your card was kept. The officer was reported, he was reprimanded, and a note was made in his permanent file. He knew that his career was over. His comrades rose to higher ranks, but he was not promoted.
So, he began to drink.
Years passed. 10, 20 years. Perestroika came and went. The USSR collapsed. The Soviet army became the Russian army. He retired, and lived on a very small pension.
He decided to quit drinking. He straightened himself up a bit. And then one day, he needed to show his documents for something official, and looked through papers in his desk. He would start a new life.
Suddenly, he found himself holding his Communist Party card. "Aha! So it was in my drawer all along."
He began to drink, again.