The Taxi driver’s intention was to frighten and bully me. He roared away from the train station in Yerevan at speed, grinding his gears as he went. I told him my destination, knowing it was about two kilometers away. “Granny, it will cost 2000 dram” said the driver careening round a corner so fast that my suitcase, propped up on the back seat, slammed against me. Pinioned to the window, I protested. “It costs 1000” I said. (It should probably cost 600 dram, but I am not an unreasonable woman–I always pay 1000).
“Granny the road is closed” he said, looking back at me, instead of at the road. It was nonsense of course.
“Stop here” I said.
“Because I don’t have 2000 dram”
“Granny it is always 1500” he said
I laughed. “It is always 1000” I said.
We arrived at a landmark near my hostel and the car stopped with a screech.
“Not here” I said “ I want right and then right and then left and then right. I will tell you where to go and when to stop”
Reluctantly he jolted the car forward until we got to the narrow road that leads to to my hostel “Granny I am stopping here. There is no way out” he said even though I knew there was.
I got out of the car with an exaggerated slowness. I don’t like to be called a Granny, even though I am one. ‘Let him wait’ I thought. ‘This old Granny will take her time’.
I walked up a few steps and made sure to stop under the light outside my hostel door. I parked my suitcase and started to count out small coins to the value of 1000 dram. I waited until he was forced to get out of the car and walk toward me to get the money. I counted it out 10 dram, then 20 dram, then 50 dram until I reached 1000. “Me rope, me rope” I kept saying. “Give me a minute” he had no choice but to stand there on the street below me with his hand outstretched.
I am 57 years old and a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in Armenia. Most people here treat me with respect because I try to speak their language even though I am a foreigner; because (ok, I admit it…)I am old; and because I am female. This bully thought he had more power than me because of my foreignness, age and gender. In younger years I might have paid the odious creature the money he asked for, and shut up– just to be safe. Not any more. This granny is galvanized. I will fight ageism, sexism, exclusion and bullying wherever it finds me. Be warned.