Well, actually I like traveling to any place by marshutkas and I take a taxi on rare occasions and also I don’t want to drive, especially in this manic city, though had the opportunity when some years ago my dad asked to look from the window to find there a cute car he was about to buy for me. You may think it’s stupid, but I didn’t accept that present. Yeah, I know, marshutkas are not that safe, some people call them “100-dram-killers”. However, I don’t mind other people around me, I rather prefer it, especially when so funny incidents and conversations happen in them. And but for several things, marshutkas would be my adorable means of transportation.
1. After the accident when several years ago two or three marshutkas crashed and several people died, kind of a rule was set that marshutkas shouldn’t take more people than the number of sits in the vehicle. As a result the drivers rebelled and increased the charge from 50 to 100 drams. However, less than a month later marshutkas were packed again and even the operation of new buses didn’t save the situation. So up to now as they drive by, one can see some bums smashed over the door windows, while people inside resemble canned fishes, and when someone from the back sit wants to get off, half of the marshutka gets off along with him to give him way out. Oh, and I don’t talk about the smell, especially in summer and especially when Armenian men do not have the habit of using antiperspirant and think that without taking shower and simply scenting with perfume they’ll get rid of the stink.
2. Following the first one, there are still very old vehicles operating as marshutkas: the impression is that they are about to fall apart as they drive, the sits are broken, wretched and very dirty. Once the entire back sit was rocking and every time the car would pull up the poor woman next to me would hit the person sitting in front of her as she’d move forward. So this woman couldn’t resist anymore and shouted to the driver: “Can’t you fix your sits!”. Now when another traffic rule which bans to operate vehicles (mainly taxies, but guess marshutkas as well) over 10 years old is set, incidentally about which you can read over at Notes From Hayrenik blog, it remains to be seen whether those cars will be removed from functioning, though for that reason the law needs to be functioning in the first place.
3. Again some time ago another kind of a rule was set and now in nearly all marshutkas one can read something like: The law “On cigarette consumption and utilization limitations” bans smoking in public transport. Warn your driver not to smoke and not to jeopardize your life”. However, you can still see marshutka drivers smoking while driving. And just try to warn him that according to the notice attached in his own marshutka he shouldn’t be smoking at all, and you will most likely be kicked out by the same driver. So, if you are late and that vehicle is your only chance, you’ve better shut up and inhale the smoke. Well, I don’t mind getting in troubles, but guess I will be kicked out one day as well 😉
4. About another funny custom! It’s really funny when two people meet each other in the van and as one of them is about to get off they quarrel as to who will pay for the other one. They both try hard to be the one to pass the money, and when one of them manages to be the first, the other one asks the driver not to take the money and return it back,as for them it’s a matter of honour. The other one gets resentful: “Aren’t you ashamed?”, as he doesn’t want to make the impression as if he was intentionally late so that the other one paid for him. And all this is witnessed by the rest of the passengers. Sometimes it gets so funny, that you can’t help laughing. But it is double resentful for a guy if a girl pays for him, as that guy is supposed to be looked down upon by the rest of the passengers. Not once I was told “Don’t disgrace me”, uh, okey, if you think so…Then a question – why not to pay as you get on, as it is done in most of the countries? I’d really prefer it. Think it’d also keep thе driver from counting the money for paying back the change while driving.
5. And finally, I address to the passengers. Why on earth don’t you tell the driver to pull up when you see someone desperately waving his hand to stop marshutka, whereas the driver doesn’t notice it. Is it really so difficult to tell the driver: “Someone wants to get on”, especially when the van is not packed, moreover, it’s empty. I’d understand if I tried to stop it somewhere along the road and not at the bust stop, though again, after a month of taking passengers only from bus stops, now drivers again pull up at every corner where a passenger waves his hand. But when the passengers see you running to the bus stop, but getting there only when the van starts, what causes them warning the driver that someone wants to get on? I always notify the driver, let he decide to stop or not. As a result the passenger who gets on thanks me for that. Shouldn’t that feel good?
Sure, there are many other disadvantages, but I’ll leave them up to you. And anyways, I still prefer marshutkas!