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Armenia pays a one-time allowance of AMD 50 thousand ($136 U.S.) to parents of new born children. My wife went over to the Social Security office the other day and came back – with 49 thousand. She had to pay the 1 thousand ($3 U.S.) as “magarich” or “tip” or money to speed things up.
The social security official kept back the 1 thousand dram note, knowing that the mother of a 7-months-old child wouldn’t stand arguing for it, while the child might be crying left with the father.
I understand, that compared to some of the largescale corruption taking place in Armenia, this petty little $3 “magarich” is nopthing. But the fact, that things like this are taken so naturally is what’s killing me. You almost expect to be asked for a little ‘tip’ when getting in contact with any type of a small beurocrat or government official and the question always is – should I start an argument and possibly delay getting my business done for months, or should I just press my teeth and go on.