Meri Mdzeluri, 25 years old, Tbilisi

„I study business administration at the Ilia State University – first-year student. At the same time, I work as a taxi driver for Taxify.

Many people are shocked to see me arriving on their call as they all are expecting taxi drivers to be men here. Once, one of the clients even told me that having seen name Mary on display he thought: “See, how times have changed, they call men Marry now”. That’s the matter – they expect a man to be called Marry more than a woman to be a taxi driver.

However, women passengers are happy to see a female driver for they feel comfortable – women taxi drivers don’t talk politics and don’t complain about fuel price. And male passengers all get very tense at first. Well, that’s because of the stereotype that women are lousy drivers. As I drive a bit, they understand I do it better than many men so they get to trust me.

I love driving. Having had a spare time from other jobs, I thought maybe I could use it, so I decided to work for a taxi company to have some extra money. Now, it’s my major source of income. Outwardly, it may seem that taxi drivers earn a lot, but in fact, it isn’t so – as for me, I’m not content, but it’s better than nothing.
There are other taxi driver girls in our company too – some of them keeping it in secret from their families and relatives. Frankly, I don’t understand what’s all this secrecy about. Everybody has their own lives, and, naturally, I’m not going to interfere. I just don’t think there is something to hide about this job. I’ve been very lucky with my family. Having told them about my intention, they became rather worried about my safety thinking someone could harm me, but as soon as they ascertained that I was going to be safe, they didn’t go against it. Besides, I work only to 10 pm not to have them worried. I work for some 5-6 hours a day, sometimes even during the breaks between lectures – I don’t waste any time. Thanks to this job, I manage to pay my tuition fees.

Before, I’d worked as a delivery person for FoodPanda with my car. It was very curious working there. Every time I called the customer that their order has arrived and they needed to open the door, they would answer: “Oh, yeah, they’ve arrived. We’ll open in a minute” to which I would reply “No, It is me who arrived, I am the delivery person”. So, they thought of me as a dispatcher and the delivery person was always expected to be a boy. I don’t want this attitude to remain – I wish it to change.

I know 70 percent of my clients by heart, and when they call me, I know where to arrive and where to take whom. Sometimes they invite me for coffee. Recently, one of them had a birthday party and invited me to join. I couldn’t join but didn’t take the fare. There are cases when a passenger doesn’t have enough money, which is also not a problem for me – anything can happen. On the other hand, it happens that they tip me – pay more than needed for the ride. In short, I meet lots of different people at work; the job is fascinating in terms of observing and interacting with people.

I must say I love cars and driving. otherwise, I wouldn’t have been enjoying my job so much or just wouldn’t have stood traffic in the city. As long as I remember myself, I’ve always wanted a car. Having found my first ever stable job, I took out a loan and bought a car. Before that, I used to ride a bike. Seven years ago, a girl on the bike was the same weird thing as a girl taxi driver today.

Having left school, I started to work as a waitress at once; later, I switched to the cash desk and became a cashier. After, I became a cook. It’s really hard to find a job in our country, but if you really want to, you can definitely find something. I suppose many people are just waiting to find themselves sitting around in director’s office doing a cushy job – I assume that sort of jobs doesn’t come just like that. Before, you should try out many things, try yourself on many jobs.

Having 7 years of working experience, I often make jokes about myself, that I have tried all jobs except for in the bank and drugstore. I suppose it’s my parents’ influence that hardly any work has been embarrassing to me. I prefer to go and work as a waitress than to ask my mother for cigarette money. Despite the fact that my parents have always been striving for me to have all I wanted. Yet, I think independence is the best feeling ever. I love being independent so that if it’s possible to perform work physically, I would never refuse it. If healthy and fit, you should try out everything and don’t just wait for a warm office to sit in.

For some reasons, jobs in our society are divided into men’s and women’s. For me, there are no men’s and women’s jobs but only the opportunities. And I’m trying to change the situation around as hard as I can, at least around me. And I know for certain I’m going to play my small part in it.

Author: Nino Gamisonia
Photo credit: Sopho Aptsiauri
Translation: Nina Suramelashvili