Living in a country like Armenia that has a reputation for being an innovation hub for the tech world must have sparked my interest and fluency in technology, one would think. Ironically, that never happened until March 2020 when Armenia announced the state of emergency due to the pandemic. I have lived in Armenia for 6 years. Yet, I still consider myself an old-fashioned person who never benefits from new applications unless I have to. When it came to paying bills I always went to the banks or telecommunication centers, waiting in line with the older generation, until my turn came. I used the ATMs that usually did not function well, having my landlady wait in the middle of Republic Square, in cold or hot weather, until I finish my work and pay her. I would even ask my friend to order for me whenever she did her own online shopping from Ebay or any other website.
All of this has changed immensely during the lockdown. I remember watching the Prime Minister’s live video and his encouragement to benefit from the online platforms. I was not convinced. However, this changed immediately the next day when my internet stopped working. I ran out to the closest Ucom center without paying attention to the fact that they are as well closed. Finally, I had to download the Upay app. In the beginning, I did not exactly know how to navigate through the app, so I reached out to the call center. Usually, when I am anxious, it gets really intense explaining what I want. However, the call center agent was really nice to me. Due to my nervousness, my language switched to “arvemdavyelav hayeren.”(a combination of both Eastern and Western Armenian) I said “ inchpes karoghem internetis trame vjarel?” In Eastern Armenian, this sounds like I am asking how to make an internet currency transaction, which does not make sense. After a few trials and phone calls to the Ucom call center and them patiently dealing with a customer like me, it worked! It sounded like a big achievement for the day.
The second experience I had was with my bank when I had to transfer my rent to my landlady, who is obviously not used to online apps either. I did the transaction but somehow it was not successful. So, I had to call the bank and just like the previous experience, it was hard to get to my point across. Nevertheless, we got somewhere.
The third and final problem I dealt with was when the SAS supermarket online platform had charged me one week later for a purchase I made. It seemed to me that they had charged me more. I called the bank again, explained my dilemma, and requested a copy of my bank statement. The call center agent was not patient enough. This was a classic repatriate moment. In the difficult situation and my nervousness, once again, my “arevmdavyelavhayeren” came out. After three calls, I got lucky with an understanding call center representative, who, apparently, has a Master's degree in dealing with drama queens like me. She patiently guided me, step by step, calming me down until I understood the entire process.
My eyes have now opened to new dimensions and I learned how to conquer every opportunity that comes into life. Regardless of the hard time we might be having during this pandemic, we can find good reasons to get out of our comfort zones, like I did. I appreciate the fact that we are blessed to be living in an age where technology facilitates our daily tasks, saves valuable time and makes us feel less lonely during a period where social distancing is required for our safety.