Doing business with Armenians
Published: Friday May 07, 2010
North Andover, Mass. - When somebody says to me, "None of your business," it usually means they don't want any.
Lately, I've been consumed by the world of business. And in my shrewd dealings, I have come to one conclusion. It is very vulgar to talk about one's own business. Only people like stockbrokers do that, and then merely at dinner parties.
I know of no better place where men may deceive one another than the stock market, especially during these troubled times. It turns into a combination of love and war.
However, that is not my business today. The matter at hand is doing business with an Armenian --- those of my ethnic kind. My father was a stickler for supporting your own. He always drove home the hard fact that "birds of a feather should flock together."
When an Armenian opened up a business, Dad was usually the first one at the door. He bought his cars from an Armenian; had his insurance dealings with an Armenian, and made sure his restaurant supplies were purchased from Armenians.
His vacations - however few they were - he spent at an Armenian beach resort. When he got sick, an Armenian doctor called. If he needed a new suit, he made sure the sale went to an Armenian.
Conversely, his business drew very few Armenians. They would never reciprocate for some reason, regardless of the home-cooked meals my mother helped prepare or the fine Armenian hospitality they couldn't wait to initiate.
I happen to come from the same mold. My instincts always urge me to patronize my own kind. Given the choice, I feel more at home when I'm dealing with an Armenian. But to a certain point.
A certain turn of events has cast a shadow of doubt. Allow me to explain.
I just received a letter from an Aram Hagopian. He deals in camera accessories and we've been doing business for quite some time.
He writes, "Dear Tom. After checking our records, we note that we have done more for you than your mother did. We carried you for 15 months."
I'd give the guy credit but I don't have any left. Where is this trust that Armenians are known to possess? If he made the bill out for the proper amount, I may have paid it, had the cash flow been available.
My barber was Armenian. I went to him for years, even when his eyesight was failing. Business was so bad, I felt sorry for the guy. He even had a sign in his window that read, "One barber --- no waiting."
One day he cut off the sideburns on half my scalp and left the other one standing. I gotta hand it to old Sam Karoustian. It grew so popular that a fad was started and he survived a pretty close shave.
I have since taken my business to another Armenian barber. This one appears to be a lot busier, much to my regret. His window sign reads, "Four barbers --- panel discussions."
A prominent Armenian philanthropist hired me to photograph his daughter's wedding and spared no expense, except when it came to the meal at the reception. While 700 guests dined on prime rib at this posh Boston hotel, I found myself in the kitchen munching on a cold turkey sandwich with members of an Armenian band.
"Couldn't we have been part of the wedding party?" I asked myself. "Hey, aren't we peas in the same pod?"
Money usually talks, but in this case, it said nothing to impress me. My father always said a rich man is nothing but a poor man with money.
I've waited an eternity for an Armenian plumber to show and don't seem to have much success with an Armenian broker. He tells me all's well, that ends. I'm afraid that's where my money is headed.
The "Armenian discount" merchants promise me tends to be 10 percent more than the normal price.
I imagine it's pretty much the same across the ethnic board. It all points to another logical conclusion. People should mind their own business. If they don't, others will.
I'm still looking for a good Armenian dentist. The last one I called was 40 years ago when a nagging toothache shut me down.
"Take two aspirins and I'll call you with an appointment," he promised.
I'm still waiting. In the meantime, I've taken my business to a Jewish dentist and he's treated me like one of his own.