Another Azerbaijani First
Putting in time at the credit union means I get to watch a lot of money change hands. This is especially the case when you consider that I’m in Azerbaijan, where most people don’t have credit cards or bank accounts. It’s all cash, all the time. There’s even a brigade of shabby-looking moneychangers working street-corners with huge wads of cash in US Dollars and Azeri Manat.
This afternoon, it just so happened that Elşən and my director had to run some credit union errands. That being the case, I was alone in the office. I don’t think anyone has ever handed me as large a wad of cash as this credit union member did. He walked in, said the appropriate greetings and we shook hands, and without hesitation I was handed a fat wad of Manat. Whoa. Two things to note: First, he didn’t hesitate. Has he seen me before? Did he just assume that I was the guy? Did he not notice how terribly I speak Azeri? Apparently I passed enough identification tests for this guy to hand over the money. Second, that’s pretty neat. I need to find out what incensed this man into handing me a wad of cash. Maybe this Peace Corps stint could be more profitable than I thought…
Luckily, the guys in the office next to me, who are from the Credit Implementing Agency, knew what to do and they relieved me of figuring out what was going on with this guy and his money. They stepped in, said “naharat olma” (“don’t worry”) and cleaned it all up for me. Next time maybe I’ll take a little more initiative.