One Finger Salute

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.

Actual photo of driving in Mersin

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.

“HHOOOONNNKKKKKKKK!”

My reply (to myself mind you). “Dude, chill.”

“HHHHHOOOOOOOONNNNNNKKKKKKKK!”

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.

“HHHHHHHHHOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNNKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK!”

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.

Lesson learned.

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But Did You Die?

Daughter has gone back to school this week.  She is in Year 8 and, as she will have her TEOG this year (the TEOG exam which will decide which high school they can attend), there are extra lessons to help them prepare.  She is, of course, spitting a rather large dummy in every direction because it’s a daily onslaught of 4 lessons of science and 4 lessons of math.  Her two worst subjects (except for din (religion) but we have had her removed from that class).

So with Daughter back at school it means I am doing the daily drop off and pick up again and I’ve got to tell you these fecking Turkish driver’s are doing my fecking head in.  I have decided that Turkish driver’s are so full of their own self-importance that they believe they are the only fecking drivers on the road.  Get out of their fecking way.  They are like a fecking bulldozer and they are coming through!  Of course they know how to drive and I know shit!  You know shit too but don’t take it personally.

driving-in-turkey-distorted

Look, my friend — there are two kinds of drivers in Turkey.  First there’s the stupid ones — and then there’s the crazy ones

I am over driving defensively.  I am over giving way, using my indicators, stopping at red lights and keeping to the speed limit.  I have my kimlik damn it!!  I’m Turkish I say and so I will start to drive like a lunatic … so I will fit right in with the rest of them!

And like probably 90% of the driver’s on a Turkish road I don’t actually have a Turkish driver’s licence.  I have my Australian driver’s licence but from 1 January 2016 an Australian must obtain a Turkish driver’s licence as Australia is one of the few countries that have not signed the international treaty (we are governed by our States).  If you’re an Aussie and have not got a Turkish driver’s licence your only option (right now) is to leave the country every six months to get a new stamp in your passport.  I’m all over that idea and, despite the fact that I only just got back from Down Under, I’m already online checking out my options for a weekend in Europe in January.  I’m thinking snow covered mountains, cozy fires, mulled wine, Brad Pitt. Oh right.  Okay.

Did you know that in Australia you need 100 hours of practice driving and lessons.  Getting your driver’s licence in Australia takes years.  FECKING YEARS!  Here I dunno but what I do know that if a Turkish driver sees a red light it inspires insanity in them.  It’s a red flag and bull situation and no one ever really wins that do they?

And while I’m on my high horse – feck my life – the fecking pedestrians!!  I swear they step out right in front of you, obviously with big old blinders on their eyes and waddle through six lanes of traffic without a fecking care in the world while you slam on your brakes, smelling the burning rubber of your tyres as you slide sideways, your airbag exploding in your face and you nearly having a freaking heart attack while they throw you the evil eye for honking at them!  And no teşekkür ederim or sağol.  No fecking way!  Just the evil side-eye.

And seeing as I have already climbed into that big saddle one more thing!  There is a small home decoration shop at the end of our street and there is a woman that ‘works’ there.  I use the term loosely because, let’s be honest, despite the fact that everybody in the village may need a home decorator there are few in the village who could actually afford one.  Anyway Little Miss Home Decorator has a lot of freaking attitude.  She spends her day sitting on a chair on the small terrace chatting with all the neighbours (including Vito’s wife whom I still haven’t spoken to since this incident back in May) but if the sun gets a little too intense she has taken to putting her chair on the road under the shade of the building and so, when I (or anyone else for that matter) turn right onto our street there she is sitting in the middle of the road enjoying her çay without a fecking care in the world while you slide sideways on the gravel to miss her sorry ass.  Get out of the way biatch!  And God forbid if you ask her to move she stares at you with that blank death stare that all these crazies around here have although no doubt she gives me that look because Vito’s wife would have told her all about ‘the incident’ and what a bloody awful yabancı I am and do you know what?  I’m really okay about that.  I really am.

Meanwhile The Turk thinks that if you survive driving on a Turkish road any day then it is a good day.  If you survived any near miss while dodging pedestrians, bike riders, cars, trucks, horses, dogs, cats, goats, chickens or anything else then buy yourself a lottery ticket ‘cause you are having a fecking great day!

 

Burası Türkiye!

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Driving Miss Janey

I recently started driving here in Mersin having purchased a brand spanking new, beyaz (of course) Nissan Juke.  I am finally an independent woman and can get out and about without having to catch 1, 2 or more dolmuş.  This has the added bonus of being less likely to be sneezed on, kidnapped or generally treated like a second class citizen while travelling on the public buses here.

Speed-Limits

Because I am a kind and thoughtful blogger I have put together a few helpful hints for those of you who intend on driving here in Türkiye:

  1. When driving on the road use your horn – all the time. It seems that we have been wrongly instructed to only use the horn sparingly.  Fallacy!  Use your horn to show how happy you are, or how sad you are, or even how horny you are (get it.  horn/horny).  Rarely the horn is used to in agitation.  Better to use your horn than your brakes (after all the horn will last longer).
  2. Pedestrian crossings are not actually for pedestrians. These black and white zebra style markings on the road is in fact a sign for us, the driver, to speed up.  If some fool does try and cross my best suggestion would be to aim right for him.  This has a two-fold effect.    You get where you are going faster; and 2.  You help him get a cardio workout.  In fact you are doing him a favour and he will no doubt smile and wave to you when he reaches the other side of the road.  This has happened to me often.  The Turk tells me it is not waving but that is neither here nor there.
  3. When at a red light you are at liberty to disregard such red light.  Instead you should think of your car as a chess piece and it is now your move.  Manoeuvre your chess piece to the front of the lights so when the lights turn green (or orange) you can shoot out like Mario Andretti.  If you do not play chess then be prepared to start using that horn (as mentioned above) and hit it as soon as the light change to show how happy you are.
  4. Left or right side of the road?   Either.  Whatever.
  5. Feel free to ignore those silly signs on the side of the road. You know the ones 50, 70 or even 120.  These signs are not actually the speed limits they are signs that indicate how many pedestrians have successfully made it to the other side of the road (true!).  The numbers never change because making it successfully across is a pipe dream.
  6. Another rule that was drilled into us while we were learner drivers and that should be totally disregarded here is using your mobile phone. In fact I stress to you that you must use your mobile while driving.  Multi-tasking is a skill that should be utilised by you.  I find that while driving you merely point your car in the direction that you want it to go and continue your chatting on your mobile or texting your cousin.  Allah will get you to your destination.  Or not.

Bonus hint – Seatbelts are an optional extra.  Merely a suggestion by the manufacturer.  And if you, like me, have a new car with that pesky alarm warning you of your impending death should you not wear your seat belt merely lock the seatbelt in place before you sit down (as suggested to me by my brother in law).

* Disclaimer:  Some days my humor is lost on The Turk and so, on his advice, I disclose that this post should not be construed as instructions on the driving laws here in Türkiye or in any other country.  You should always adhere to road rules in the country that you are visiting or live in and here in Türkiye “road rules” means “no rules” LOL!

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Loving this blog? Please help me build my audience and share with like minded people who, like you, have put aside your years of road knowledge to drive in this crazy country and love Turkey. You can also subscribe or like me on Facebook for all updates.