For those of you who don’t know, numbers are a big thing in Armenia. So important that people go to great lengths to secure numbers that secure their importance – likely because they’re insecure. The most evident of examples is what you see on the roads, often in Yerevan, but really everywhere. License plates are the most visible proof that you are a VIP (“veep”, in local parlance) – and certified to break all rules with impunity. Thus you have combinations like “11 oo 111” or “23 LL 233”. The more uniform your license plate number or the more clear the pattern, the more cool you are. You know, like in high school when your importance is determined by the clothes you wear and not the ideas you bring to the table or the deeds you perform.
Another iteration of the number fetish is with phone numbers. It makes life, easy, really. If I meet someone with a license plate number that proves that they are cool and they give me their cool-making phone number, something like 23 23 23, then I don’t even have to worry about their personality, character, or intelligence because all the work in determining whether this person is worth interacting with is done for me. And, in fact, I trust that in the near future, it will be an awfully easy way to pick out the dimwits who actually concern themselves with this rather than, I don’t know, reading a book.
When businessmen, politicians, university rectors, and the people who take cues from them (i.e. the masses) stop depending on their license plate and phone numbers for the the respect they think they deserve and start commanding that respect through their actions steeped in love of country and nation, we will know a new and right path.
By: William Bairamian