Today I had to take our car in to be inspected at the gov’t checkup facility. It’s supposed to be a pretty simple procedure, but the wait is what kills you. We were told to expect 2-4 hours. I was ready for the wait… But not for the abuse. I arrived at 11:00 am.
So I pull up into the parking area where cars wait to enter and a guy automatically ran up to me like he worked there and started aggressively trying to do everything for me. He of course acted like he was trying to help me as a foreigner. Looking back, I realize that he just went and got a ticket (like at gov’t offices or banks) from the security guard. At this point, they start playing with the tickets and giving me a smaller one like they’re doing me this huge favor, he drags me around and tries to speak English and will not let me go. He’s acting helpful, but honestly I just wanted to wait in line like everyone else. But at this point, I still kinda think the guy works there. So he takes me inside to look at the number being served and they say it’ll be about an hour and a half. So I go back to the car to listen to a podcast. At this point he starts badgering me for money. “You’re gonna give this guy 20YTL (15$) after it’s all finished.” I said “For what? What is he gonna do for me?” “If there’s a problem, he’ll fix it.” “Don’t worry, I don’t need any help, and there’s no problems. Just leave me alone, I’m not paying anything.” At this point, the mood changes “OOOOOh he don’t wanna pay” (this is all in Turkish by the way). “Than give me the ticket back.” I’m like “listen, I didn’t ask for any help, and I’m not paying for any help.” Imagine that conversation going on and on for 20 minutes… That’s what the next 15 minutes of my life consisted of. Finally I said that if they can get me in and out in half hour, I’d pay the money. The second guy said “40 minutes and it’s a deal”. We shook hands and I said again, If I’m not done by Noon, I’m not paying any money.” “Okay! Okay” they yell at me “it’s a deal” they said and gave me a ticket with a smaller number.
I wait, finally at 11:45 I go inside and wait for my number to come up. It doesn’t come up until 12:30, at which they process my paperwork and tell me to wait longer. I wait until 1:00 pm. Sweet, I pay nothing, I thought.
When it’s time to bring my car into the real waiting area is when the situation got hot. They start telling me to give the money, yelling. I’m like “listen, we had a deal, I’m not paying unless I finish before noon. It’s 1:00 and it’s still not done. The guy who first ‘greeted’ me starts shouting “give me my money! I paid money for that ticket, and now you’re going to pay me” (obviously a lie.) I walk to my car and he follows me getting more and more aggressive. I continue to repeat “we had a deal, now be a man and honor the deal.” At this point, the guys is yelling at me through the car window and telling me to “give me my money!” He’s also positioned in such a way that I can’t just drive away.
This is where I start to feel even more helpless, because it’s so obvious that they have people inside who they work with, and if I don’t pay, they probably have the power to make me fail my examination. I’m getting really frustrated. Finally I said “how do you sleep at night?! Is this how you earn a living, by annoying people until they pay you.” At this point, the guy looks like he’s about to get violent. I gave him the 20YTl and he said “finally you give me my money.” I said “no, I’m not giving you YOUR money, you’re stealing MY money.” Then he said in English “F&*K YOU,” then Turkish ” Siktir git” (translated go f*%k yourself) I’ve never had those words spoken to me in Turkish or English. I guess there’s a first time for everything. I drove into the waiting area, helpless to do anything else.
Most of the time, I love living in Turkey, but I do hate being taken advantage of because I’m a foreigner. I finished my inspection at about 2:30 pm, stressed and angry. That’s a bad way to start a week.