In Anton Chekov’s short story “Misery,” Iona Potapov drives a sledge. He is the equivalent of a modern taxi driver, picking up fares and taking passengers where they want to go. As the story opens, Iona is sitting on his sledge and letting the snow fall down over himself and his horse. They remain perfectly still for a long time as they wait.
Then, Iona hears a call: “Sledge to Vyborgskaya!” He jumps a bit as a military officer climbs into the sledge, and the officer has to repeat himself before Iona begins to drive. Snow flies in all directions from both driver and horse.
Clearly, Iona is distracted, for people are shouting at him as he tries to drive through the crowd. The officer yells, “You don’t know how to drive! Keep to the right!” Soon, though, the officer realizes that the fault is not all Iona’s, for the pedestrians are deliberately getting in the way.
Iona tries to reach out to the officer, for there is something that has been on the driver's mind, and he needs the sympathy of another human being. He tells the officer that his son “died this week.” Unfortunately, the officer is not particularly sympathetic. He merely asks what he died from, and when Iona turns around to talk, he hollers at him to watch where he is going and to hurry up. Clearly, the officer cares nothing about Iona or his son.