Not the right road for status


Three teenage Armenian girls pulled up to a local gas station on a

recent evening in a sleek, newer-model BMW and got out of the car,

chatting and laughing at what appeared to be an amusing story one of

them had been sharing.

The driver headed to the window to pay for the gas and returned to

the car and continued to chit chat with her friends. She headed for

the gas tank looking for a way to open the gas cap door.

After some fiddling, she managed to find the lever inside the car

that opened the gas cap door. Then the real task at hand awaited as

she questioned which type of fuel to use.

“Which one is it?” she asked, referring to the unleaded, super

unleaded and diesel options awaiting her. Her friends stood and

pondered the choices and offered seemingly uneducated opinions and

blank stares.

The driver then reached for the diesel fuel. I quickly walked over

to the car after having purchased gas, and suggested she use the

unleaded fuel instead.

As I helped her adjust the nozzle, she sighed, relieved someone

came to her rescue.

They drove away from the gas station and continued their jovial

conversation. .

I drove off thinking to myself that what I witnessed is so common

among Armenian youth, or any teens for that matter.

It certainly isn’t uncommon to see inexperienced drivers, teens in

particular, driving $40,000 cars in the Armenian community.

There is no shortage of BMWs, Mercedes-Benz, Lexus or other luxury

cars being driven by Armenian teens. And it is not only about a

desire to exert one’s independence by driving. Driving, especially an

automobile with an expensive price tag, also creates the illusion of


To put it simply, a car is a status symbol for a younger

generation of Armenians.

Now, that is not to say that some parents don’t look at cars the

same way.

Often, they lend their luxury cars to their teens or even buy a

luxury car for their children.

Aside from one’s ethnicity and culture, it is beyond my

comprehension why a parent would hand over a Mercedes-Benz key to

their 17-year-old son or daughter.

Some parents, I suppose, proclaim that driving is an initiation

into adulthood and should be rewarded, while others simply want their

children to be part of a social circle that demands the display of

wealth and status.

Yet it also seems that many parents have no fear when their

children get behind the wheel; or perhaps they mask the fear by

offering them a car in exchange for the promise of safe and skillful


I, for one, attempt to stay off particular roads, during certain

hours of the day, that these young drivers tend to frequent. Not only

do I have a concern for safety, but I also have no desire to view an

entourage of luxury vehicles that appear and reappear on the streets

for show and spectacle.

I think I will stick to my trusty Toyota and find alternative

routes to make my way through the city.

* ANI AMIRKHANIAN is a news assistant. She may be reached at (818)

637-3230 or by e-mail at