Monday, February 28, 2011

Arrested in Turkey... Almost

Every once in a while, I have a job that I don't like.

Scratch that.  I hate working.  I love the idea of having a job and making money, but I generally feel like my soul dies a little bit every time the alarm clock goes off in the morning or I hear the word "synergize " used in a sentence.

I assume there are quite a few people who feel like I do... glad they have a job in the recession, but not really happy about it.

When I am feeling down about my current job, I have to remind myself that I have had it much, much worse in the past.  All I have to do is look at my journals from years back...

Here is an example:

May of 2003:  I had a dedicated journal for when I went to Europe for the first time.  I went with a tour group because I wasn't confident enough to plan my own trip, and I really wanted to get myself to do something instead of making excuses why I couldn't.  We went to Greece, but we had a one day excursion to Turkey to see Ephesus, our cruise ship landing in Kusadasi.

Here is what I wrote about that day:

"If I get arrested in Turkey, I won't have to go back to work.  I am considering it."

I didn't write anything else about that day, and yes, I saw Midnight Express before that.

After the tour bus brought us back from Ephesus, we were supposed to sit through a “cultural demonstration” at a rug shop, and then have some time to wander the bazaar.

At the rug shop, they gave us apple tea in pretty little glass cups with golden handles, and they pointed out the beauty and amazing colors of various rugs.  These are wool.  These are silk. They were beautiful, but all I really heard was “It takes a village a year to make one of these rugs,” in other words, “there is no way in the universe you can afford this, you silly girl”.

I was sitting in the back, and I managed to peer behind one of the smaller rugs hanging on the wall.  It had a price tag, and was listed at 20,000 Euros.  Not dollars.  Not lira.  Euros.

I set down my tea and snuck out through the back.

I didn’t want a cigarette, but everyone was smoking so it was on my mind.  I thought, “I should get some Turkish tobacco for my friends back home”.  It seemed like a brilliant plan.  A nice, cheap, souvenir for my friends, and a chance to wander without the group.

The nice thing about being in Turkey after having been in Greece was that they used the Latin alphabet.  There was also a particular feeling of Turkey that made me feel more at home than anywhere we had visited in Greece.

Sure, the buildings looked like they had about five thousand years of dirt on them.  Yes, I saw a spider about the size of a large mouse in the ruins.  Yes, it was so hot at the end of May they actually had canvas tents strung between the buildings to offer shade.  But the people reminded me of being home.  They all looked different. Tall, short, dark, light, and everything  in between.  Some people dressed nice, some people wore khaki cargo shorts and flip-flops.

But I wasn't scared to wander off by myself, like I might have been.

I probably should have been.  I mean, how safe are port cities anywhere?  Especially ones that expect rich tourists to land?

It didn't occur to me to worry.  I found what appeared to be a tobacco shop within a few minutes of looking.  The sign that said “Cigarettes” may have tipped me off.

“Hello hello” said the man behind the counter.  He was very small.  Very very small.  Maybe 5 feet tall at the most, but he had a big voice.

“Hi,” I said, “I would like to buy some tobacco.”  I walked through the narrow shop to the counter.  There were hookahs on the back wall, and the counter had dozens of flavored tobaccos underneath Plexiglas.

“Drum?” he said.

“Um,” I said, “I was hoping to find something Turkish…”

“Camels?” he asked.

“Um,” I said again.  “Well.  Never mind.”


My jaw may have dropped.  “No,” I said, “I just wanted tobacco.”

“Drum??” He was getting more agitated.

“Turkish tobacco.”


“I’m leaving,” I said.  I was sweating.  I don’t know if it was from nervousness or because the shop was sweltering.


I turned to go.  “Wait!” he said.  I was shocked when he touched my arm.  I jumped about a foot straight up.

“This tattoo,” he said, “Where did you get it?”

“Um,” I said, “Why?”

He laughed a little nervously.  “It’s a symbol of Turkish mafia,” he said.

“Huh,” I said.  “I have to go.”

I pushed my way past some obviously American  college students who were wearing designer hippie clothes and reeking of patchouli.  I paused as I exited.   I guessed they weren’t there for tobacco.   I think that’s the moment I realized I could probably get arrested and sent to Turkish prison if I wanted to get out of work going to work on Monday.

I was saved by a girl in my group, I think her name was Lisa.  She saw me and dragged me off to search of  pashminas.  But I thought about getting arrested for the rest of the day, and wondered what would happen if a real Mafioso saw my tattoo.

P.S.  I changed my mind.  I think that I would rather go to prison in Turkey than work today.


Anonymous said...

i so enjoyed that story. i miss your humor!!! why aren't you coming to NO with your sister???? shame on you! well, i am off to reading some more of your blogs--this is my first time here--and so much fun! take care girl! oh, this is kami by the way, i don't know how to check in with my name so i just use anonymous.

PudMonkey said...

What the heck is a pashmina? I keep hearing them advertised and have no idea if I should rush right out an buy one or not.

Leauxra said...

A "pashmina" is a fancy way of saying "big scarf". It's a wrap. Kind of like people who say "duvet" instead of "blanket".