Thursday, August 2, 2007

Cons & Cars Part II (Turkey)

As I pass through the automatic toll on my way to work, a loud buzzer warns me that my transmitter didn’t register. I must have been driving a little too fast through the toll. I continue my commute through Asia and thank God that I am not five feet to my left on the other side of the barrier where thousands of people are sitting, waiting to cross the bridge onto the European side of Istanbul. As the collection of European cars and an occasional Ford travel North with me, we engage in a dance of which I have become all too familiar. A speedy Mercedes quickly makes up the distance between my rear and his front bumper. He signals his desire to continue forward at a faster pace than I am going and I oblige by quickly moving into the middle lane. A few minutes later it is my turn to flick my lights as a red Renault creeps up a hill. This dance continues at all hours of the day on Turkish motorways.

After passing the Renault, I arrive at the second toll of my journey and am surprised when the angry buzzer yells at me for a second time. Now, this is not normal. My fingers make their way behind the rearview mirror but are saddened when they are unable to find the goal of their pursuit. My transmitter has suddenly disappeared. Has Houdini come back from the dead to posses my innocent black Opel? Soon, my thoughts turn to the seedy parking lot attendants that I have grown to loathe. It has to be them. I continue on my journey trying to give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe, the transmitter has fallen down somewhere in the car. As I pull into work, I quickly do a search in the car, trying to find this little white box that I have taken for granted all summer. As I peer under the seat of the car, I do not find the transmitter but another clue in the mystery that envelops my morning. I find a sack full of food wrappers, including two discarded Ayran containers. Aha!!! Further evidence supporting my theory that someone has indeed entered the car and stolen my transmitter. I share the news with my boss and we return to the dilemma that has plagued us since the first incident with these crooks… there is no other parking lot near where I live. The only other option is to try and park on the street, which is even more of a crapshoot. Begrudgingly, we arise at the conclusion that we must continue to deal with these dishonest folk for another 15 days when my contract expires.

The next morning as I walk towards the parking lot, I get a sense that Houdini has moved on and decided to let me be. As I expected, the transmitter magically reappeared overnight. I call my boss and he responds with a traditional Turkish saying. “God makes you lose and find your donkey.” Certainly, you value even the most invaluable items once you have rescued them from being lost.

Joel Montgomery

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