I had a road rage incident here in Mersin a few months back. Full disclosure it was (kinda) my fault and I regret the whole incident but thankfully I lived to tell the tale to you guys now and, who knows, maybe my story will be a lesson on what not to do while on the roads here (or anywhere in the world these days for that matter).
Driving in Turkey can be a little *ahem* challenging at times but I can play Super Mario Kart as good as any nine year old so I feel I have the skills necessary to dodge bananas, shells or out of control turtles as I manoeuvre through the chaos of Mersin traffic.
So recently I was meeting a friend from Adana for lunch. Regrettably, we had chosen the weekend of the Portakal Festival which meant that everyone who had ever owned a car here in Mersin was out on the road and traffic was completely gridlocked. Neither of us minded too much as we weren’t in any great hurry, however and as usual, the impatient drivers of Mersin had all taken on their alter ego of Mario Andretti and believed that they were on the final straight at the Daytona 500.
Fast forward to 1 km from our destination… the train station in Çarşı and that’s when it happened.
We were stuck behind a car who was attempting to park on the busy road. Yes, the driver may not have had the best parking skills but as I said we weren’t in any great hurry so came to a stop behind him and waited. However, the wack job behind us in a banged-up white Fiat wasn’t as patient.
My reply (to myself mind you). “Dude, chill.”
Now (and mostly because my ears were actually bleeding at this point) I threw my hands up in the air very dramatically ensuring that the nut bar behind me could clearly see I was frustrated by his behaviour.
My reply (out loud but not out the window). “What the hell do you want me to do, ya bloody dickhead!”
It happened a third time.
I moved forward slightly to enable the hot rod enough space to nudge into the traffic beside us. He passed. Slowly. And I did the unthinkable… I gave him the finger!
Yep, I flipped him off. I showed him the bird. I gave him the highway salute.
Hindsight and all that I knew I shouldn’t do it but on very rare occasions my Aussie-ness explodes out, and I’m drinking beer, calling people “flamin’ galah’s” and, well, giving people the finger. In Australia it’s endearing. That’s how we Aussies say hello. I swear! Okay maybe not.
Anyhow… Mad Max came to a screeching halt about thirty metres ahead, and he jumped out of his car and raced towards us like Usain Bolt while being chased by two other car occupants who were attempting to tackle him to the ground.
“Holy shit!” said I.
“Oh my!” said my more eloquent friend.
I became my very own version of Mario Andretti and floored it, swerving through the traffic in an effort to get as far away from this wack-job as possible. And then it happened.
Dude threw himself at my car, like his whole body, flying through the air at the passenger side of the car! I didn’t stop. I looked through my rear vision mirror and watched him roll neatly into the gutter, dust himself off and immediately give chase again. There was no stopping him! He was the T-1000 from Terminator 2. Holy shit!
Thankfully we lost him in the chaos that is every day Çarşı, and I dropped my shaken but not stirred friend at the train station. I drove home in a state of panic to update The Turk who immediately took me and the car to the polis merkezi to report the incident and to obtain paperwork for the insurance claim on the body-sized dent in our front passenger door.
Unfortunately, the polis was not as helpful as we had hoped and informed me I had “antagonised” the other driver so nothing could be done, in fact he had the right to make a complaint against ME! They also gave me a warning about driver safety and road rage because if you piss someone off here, the other driver could pull out a gun/axe/knife/pitchfork and really go to town.
Being a sensible kind of Aussie and wanting to learn my lesson I did a little research on road rage around the world and do you know what? In a recent report commissioned in Belgium, it seems that 77% of Australians have been subject to an “obscene gesture while driving”. Crikey! I wonder how many of them were me???
In Turkey, authorities are at constant loggerheads about how to control the trafik canavari (traffic monster) and road rage that seems to be an everyday occurrence.
The moral of my story is to never, ever give anybody the finger; you never know what type of looney tunes is in the car behind you, or beside you, or in front of you.
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