Taxi Taxi

Living in Fresno didn’t afford me the opportunity to take taxis very often. In fact, I wouldn’t even know how to find one. And even though Yerevan is a walking friendly city, I do take them on the occasion if it’s bad weather, late at night, or I’m hauling something.

When I first moved to Yerevan, the “taking of taxis” just added to the adventure-ness of living here.  Taxis were unregulated, unlicensed, un-everything.  Just sit by the side of the road in a car, and POOF you were a taxi.  It was like the wild west, the driving was crazy, prices were crazy, drivers were crazy.  Fast forward to today, and taxis are company owned for the most part, somewhat regulated, most have meters, and they’re all terrified of the traffic cameras.  Hence some semblance of obeying traffic laws.

One thing that hasn’t changed though is that most drivers are chatty.  “Where are you from, do you like Yerevan, why are you here, what is your village (Western Armenia reference, Kharpert by the way) “,  they quizzed me about everything.  Want to take a taxi in Yerevan?  Have your CV handy.  My first time in Brussels I took a cab to a shopping mall.  Halfway there I realized the driver was silent.  He spoke English, we established that when I got in the cab.  But this silence?  What the hell was that all about?!  Jerk.  Then it dawned on me, THIS is how the rest of the world experienced taxi rides.

But back to Yerevan.  The other night I was transporting a cake to share with friends at dinner.  Since I wasn’t going far, I grabbed a cab off the street instead of calling for one.  Red, clean, lots of stickers and phone numbers on the side.  This tells you it’s a “real” cab.  I hopped in, said the name of the restaurant, and since there are two in town, told him it’s the one near the opera.

Aaaand we started.  For edification, the driver was late late late 60’s.  Ish.  And this was all in Armenian.

Driver:  Are you from Syria?
Me:  No, the US
Driver:  Visiting or you live here?
Me:  I live here and work here.  14 years.
Driver: 14 YEARS?!  Why is your Armenian so bad?
Me:  (Insert spate of cursing that was going on in my head) I don’t study and Armenian is difficult.
Driver:  Do your parents speak at home.
Me:  No.  My Mom doesn’t speak Armenian
Driver:  Is she Armenian?
Me:  Yes. She’s Armenian.  But her Mother was born in the US, and the family wanted to learn English.
Driver:  Ah, ok, I understand.  But your Dad speaks Armenian?  Why didn’t he teach you?
Me:  Yes, my Dad speaks Armenian, I don’t know why he didn’t teach me.

Now at this point, I notice he’s not in the lane to turn to the restaurant.

Me:  Excuse me, where are you going?
Driver:  You said Artashi Mod
Me:  Yes, but the one by Opera
Driver:  Ay kezi ban (sorry, this doesn’t really translate well, basically he said Oh my)
Me:  That’s ok, go up to the next street and make a u-turn
Driver:  How many Artashi Mod’s are there?  (trying to make a joke) You didn’t say by the Opera
Me:  Yes, I said, and they have 2

Back to the inquisition

Driver:  Are you married?
Me:  Divorced
Driver:  You should be married
Me:  I don’t want to
Driver:  What?! Why not?!?!
Me:  All men are difficult and idiots
Driver:  (extra insulted) All men are not difficult and idiots.  You’re young, you should be married, why don’t you want to get married, who do you cook and clean for?
Me:  (After taking a brief pause to consider the cook and clean comment) Yes they are, no I’m not, and I cook and clean for myself!
Driver:  You’re not young?
Me: No
Driver: (I could actually see the light bulb go off) I’m not married, I’m divorced, marry me!
Me:  Hahahahahahahaha
Driver:  I’m single, you’re single, why are you laughing?  It’s a good idea!
Me:  Hahahahahahahaha
Driver:  I don’t understand, why don’t you want to get married?  You work, you won’t have to work.

I should explain, when he asked me to marry him, he turned around and smiled.  And there it was, right there to see.  A shiny gold front tooth.  Now, lots of people have gold teeth.  And I’ve never really paid much attention to them.  Except last December, two of my friends came up with a plan to see what would happen if they took a gold tooth to the gold market, and tried to sell it.  Just to see the reactions of the gold sellers, who generally aren’t a jovial bunch.  Also, it belonged to one of them, it came out of her own head, I don’t want anyone thinking I have friends running around picking up stray teeth to sell.  So when he flashed the big one at me, all I could think about was selling it at the market.

Me:  I don’t want to get married.  But thank you for asking. Finally.

Further explanation.  I have other friends who have had marriage proposals from taxi drivers.  And in 14 years, I have had all kinds of things offered by taxi drivers: a coffee date, Armenian language lessons, cognac (yes, the bottle was right there in the car), BBQ service for me and my friends, and fresh-cut fruit at the end of a knife by a driver who was clearly quite high.  I’ve been sung to, yelled at, had poetry recited, lectured, and one wanted to take me and my friend to his Mother’s house so we could continue celebrating a futbol win. We declined.  But never a marriage proposal.  I was kind of insulted, it was about time.

Driver:  But you’re single, I’m single, why not?
Me:  Because I don’t want to
Driver: Ay kezi ban

Luckily, we had arrived at the restaurant.  I reached my hand over the front seat to hand him the money, and he grabbed it, took the cash and put it back in my hand.

Driver:  But no, I can’t take your money, we’re going to get married (showing the gold tooth again)
Me:  (Throwing money into the front seat)  No, we’re not, hahahahahaha

Obviously I wasn’t going to wait for change and ran into the restaurant, still laughing.  As I approach my 15 year anniversary of being in Armenia, I thought that was a fitting start to the celebrations.  My first gold toothed marriage proposal.  Taxi driver or not.

Beam Me Up?

Unless you’re been living under a rock, you’ve already heard the news. Bank of America announced that we’re all living in the Matrix.

Ok, that might not be exactly what they said, but it’s close enough.

How many times have I been in a car, convinced that we’re about to crash, only to blink and see that we’ve passed the danger. Coincidence?!?! I think not. Concrete proof.  And I always assumed it was just one of my multiple personalities taking over and in what I thought was a blink, I had actually already been in and out of the hospital and recovered from my injuries.  See?  Total score!  There’s only one me!  It’s the Matrix!

Their (BofA) theory is that future generations have for some reason decided to run this virtual simulation of their ancestors. Since I don’t have children, this means the descendants of my nephews are in control.  Three boys.  Three sons of my already proven to be bratty brothers.  But thanks for choosing me!

So here’s just one of the many problems.  First, who takes responsibility for the bad stuff; second, can I change my future destiny by upping the Christmas present levels to the nephews; third, if they can hear and see us, are they happy?  Do I care?

And now, so many more questions!  Is Elvis alive in the future?  Do they not have peanut butter, which explains my obsession?  Shoes!!  What’s the deal with shoes?!  I’m guessing they just all float around and their feet have evolved into puffy landing pillows, hence the little whispering I hear in my ear every time I see a cute pair.  “buuuuuuy theeeeeeem”  Jerks.  You have no shoes.  That’s your punishment for not giving me awesome virtual eyelashes.  OMG, Mickey!  Forget Elvis, is Walt there?  Is this why I love Mickey so much?  You gave me Minnie Mouse eyelashes?  Tell him I say hi, and that he needs to shut it down about the Star Wars direction at the theme park.

Ooooooo, Star Wars.  Now I get it.

But if BofA is the one who has “discovered” this.  How do we know the future BofA didn’t send the info to the present BofA so we all start thinking we should bank there?  And why would it be a bank who put this all together?  That seems suspicious.  What about the scientists, the great thinkers of the world, Bill Gates, Stephen Hawking, hellooooo, the people on Big Bang Theory.

I’ll leave with one last thought.  Dogs.  They definitely know more than they’re letting on.

BANK OF AMERICA: There’s a 20%-50% chance we’re inside the matrix and reality is just a simulation

Nothing BUT possibilities

Today I saw a brilliant t-shirt. Stark white with one work in black, bold letters – BUT

And I spotted it on a guy with a giant belly attached to his skinny Armenian married man body, rocking a lit cigarette perfectly balanced on his lower lip.  If he was in the third world squat position sipping an Armenian coffee, I would have passed out.  These are the moments when I curse myself for not having a camera ready at all times.

However, the t-shirt is the real focus here


I’ve grabbed the pearls, seen the light bulb, heard all the words, climbed the mountain.  It’s the wisdom of a thousand smelly hermits perched atop a mountain peak.  Add, who, what, when, where, why, or any variety of profanity, and it all works.  The profanity being the best of course. This one t-shirt as a metaphor for all life from now until eternity.  Thank you belly guy, thank you.


Context – Case Files

I often wonder what my neighbors must think. I talk to myself. At work, when completely frustrated; and at home, just in general. But without knowing the context of why I’m shouting at the TV, wall, oven, air, etc.; some of my statements can sound a bit strange. I can’t imagine the reactions of my neighbors from over the years.  I’ll start with the most recent example, which is what got me thinking about this in the first place.

Case File 47 – Summer Nights

Remarks in question:  “take off clothes, take off clothes, take off clothes, take off clothes,take off clothes…..

Stated over and over.  I wouldn’t say I was yelling, I was too exhausted to yell.  Just talking loudly, but with a definite sense of urgency.  Now, without context, this sounds like it might have been the start of something fun.  But when examined with context, it was the opposite of fun.  I had just arrived home from work, it was a 100+ degree day, my office does not have air conditioning, and my 1 hour commute home involves two buses, neither with air conditioning.  My clothes had begun the process of melding onto my skin from the heat, and I was giving instructions to myself before passing out.  See, with context, it’s a perfectly normal conversation.  With myself.  Probably suffering from heat stroke.

Case File 23 – Flame Out


I feel this one is a slight gray area.  “Light you on fire” could mean I wanted to warm the other person up.  It was actually cold outside that day.  Or, it could have been the prelude to a heinous crime.  It actually was about to be a crime depending on your feelings towards scorpions.  I had just come home, walked in the door, and found a healthy sized scorpion waiting on the first floor landing. Caught off-guard, I didn’t have any of my scorpion eradication tools handy.  I use chopsticks to catch them, hold them over a cigar ashtray,  and light them on fire with a long-neck lighter.  As soon as I moved out of my FREEZE pose, it started to walk towards a hole in the stairwell.  Which is when I politely asked him to remain in place so that I could grab my kit and come back and kill him.  Which I did, lucky for me he was a slow-poke.  Not so lucky for him.

Case File 32 – Sleepover

Remarks in questions:  “I can do this, I can do this, I CAN DO THIS….

I screamed the last “I can do this” at a high decibel level while hopping about. I would assume the neighbors (not mine this time), thought I was practicing the broad jump.  Or new dance moves.  That were causing immense pain.  The actual story is that I was staying at my friend’s apartment while he was out-of-town, because the owner of my house had come to visit for a few weeks during the summer and wanted to stay there with her family, and I wanted to give them privacy.  And you were wondering why I talk to myself?  Anyway, the first day at his house I discovered that I couldn’t get the hot water to work.  Since it was summer, and so hot, I thought I could handle taking a shower with cool water.  At least it started out cool.  I assume the water hanging out in the pipes of the building had warmed up during the day.  But the longer the water ran, the colder it became, until the end was like ice water from the refrigerator.  But I’m not a quitter, I finished the shower without too much frostbite.

Case File 40 – Uninvited Guest(s)

Remarks in question:  “WHAT THE HELL!! WHY ARE YOU HERE?!?!?!  GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT

This time, new house, new neighbors.  I’m sure they were thinking:  Well, if she wants the person to leave, why doesn’t she just open the door?!?!  I was standing in the entryway at the time.    Freaking out over what was a sea of baby insects.  Seriously, it was pretty amazing. I first thought they were some weird tiny bug. The power of the internet set me straight.  They were baby cockroaches, and had claimed my hallway as their new home. How touching. Luckily my friend had some magic Iranian bug spray.  I sprayed in one corner where I thought they were coming from, then left the house for overnight.  Came back in the morning to find them all “asleep”.  Did some sweeping up while singing, “I am the champion my friends…”  The neighbors probably have 911 punched in their phones whenever they hear my voice.  I haven’t seen another bug in 11 months.  MAGIC SPRAY

To sum up, we’ve got several lessons learned.  First, don’t eavesdrop on your neighbors.  It’s not polite.  Second, don’t imagine the worst, their rantings could all have perfectly logical explanations.  Finally, if you’re my neighbor, thanks for not calling the police.