Yesterday, my husband and I were headed back home from a lovely weekend at a thermal spa. Patalya Thermal Hotel is nestled in the mountains of a national park, about an hour’s drive from downtown Ankara. We were rather relaxed. We had taken advantage of the thermal pools, saunas, and baths. I even had an aroma therapy massage! Life was good.
Our weekend had started quite oddly. We were going to celebrate our wedding anniversary. When my husband surprised me with the trip, two days before departure, within an hour we learned that his mother was also going. Not with us of course. But somehow she simultaneously booked rooms with her friends – at a neighboring spa. That was a bit odd, and of course, necessitated more phone calls than necessary and a couple of pitstops out of our way. But it wasn’t a problem. We had celebrated in peace – without visitors from the family.
The second oddity once at the hotel, we ran into friends of ours, a couple we had first met in Philadelphia. They were there for the weekend with two other couples and kids. Crazy thoughts had run through my mind. Had my husband invited all of these folks for some reason? Alas, it was just a coincidence. We enjoyed each other’s company at times. But group ventures were not forced on us. So as I said, we had a lovely weekend.
As we left Kizilcahamam, we stopped for a quick bite to eat. The menu consisted of two items, köfte or kebap. So we ordered one of each. As we left the restaurant, we noticed other tables being served baby lamb chops and other cuts of lamb. What the heck? Perhaps they were specials. But only the insiders knew . . .
Still I was happy. It had been a beautiful weekend afterall.
The drive was good. Traffic was bearable. The snow-capped mountains becoming more distant.
As we entered the Ankara city limits, we decided to make a quick stop at Bauhaus (the German Home Depot). They had some fun curtains I wanted. And then BOOM! That is when things changed!
We were driving up behind Cepa Mall. We were in the innermost lane of two lanes and the oncoming traffic had three lanes. In natural Turkish style, some guy made a fourth lane, hanging out there by himself, trying to jump ahead and nudge his car into the other lanes. The problem was that the other cars weren’t moving. They were stuck in mall traffic. And the lane he had “created” happened to be the on the inside – hence it was the lane we driving in and we were headed straight at him.
Now, my husband, being Turk, should have simply forced his way into the right lane to avoid hitting this character. But unfortunately for this guy, my husband has been Americanized. He follows driving rules. He uses turn signals. He stays in his lane. He lets pedestrians cross the road. He pulls over for ambulances instead of racing them. All of these things that must seem foreign to the Turks. I can just imagine them yelling “yabanci” at him!
(Video above displays typical Ankara traffic. Race the ambulance. Block the lanes. Make sure you honk your horns!)
So in this particular situation, my husband decided to drive head-on, stopping the car about 3 feet in front of the violator of road policy. I was shocked but pleasantly surprised. My hubby had balls.
Inhale . . .
There was room for this guy to back up out of our way – as an acknowledgement that we was in the wrong. Afterall, he was in our lane – a lane of oncoming traffic! But instead, he immediately jumped out of his car ran up to my husband’s window and started pounding on the glass, yelling at him! Now mind you, this guy was clearly in the wrong, but in a Turkish state of mind, we were the offenders to him.
My husband backed up a little and started to pull away, crossing over into the other lane. But this guy followed on foot – pounding on the window at the backseat of the car. My husband pulled to the right and I jumped out of the car. By that time, the driver of the vehicle and an older man who had apparently also jumped out of his car were headed back to their car. They were too far behind us now for us to do anything about it.
For the next hour, we talked about what “could” have happened. My husband is a gentle, mild-mannered, very calm man. He wished I had my camera in my hand so that I could have captured the license plate. He wished the guy would spend a night in jail. He wished the guy would have at least been detained for an hour by the police for questioning.
I, however, am a mad woman! I wished I had been quick enough to grab my cell phone to take photos of him beating our little “Meggie.” I wished I had sent the photos to every major newspaper, so this jackass’ friends could see what a true idiot he was. I wished I had been a little faster to jump out of the car – because my feeling is that nothing embarrasses a man more than having his butt kicked publicly by a woman!
What is it that forces Turks to drive like this? Why don’t they wear seatbelts? Why do they let their children run wild in their cars? Each year there are about 495,000 car accidents in this country of around 75 million people, with 77,000 injuries, 4,430 fatal crashes and 136,000 serious injuries. It may be pompous of Americans to think that the Turkish style of doing particular things is wrong and that our foreign ways are better. But in the case of road safety, almost any other country has better drivers and are more concerned about safety than getting to the next red light.
Is it repressed anger that forces a man to jump out of his car and attack others when he is 100% in the wrong? If you think Americans are pompous, you have never experienced the arrogance of a Turkish driver! The road rage! I have heard stories of a German Diplomat who was severely beaten in a traffic incident. Well, actually, there was no incident. The Turkish driver was abusing him so much on the road that he pulled over and was subsequently attacked. I have heard stories of cab drivers ganging up on people who have gotten into accidents with taxis. I have heard a lot of stuff. But still, I am not afraid . . .
A good old-fashioned, Philly-style, butt-whooping. That’s what this guy needed! And I’m just the woman to do it too! So don’t mess with me!
. . . and exhale.
Happy Anniversary Hon – from your little Crusher! metu.