Like everyone, there are times when I completely suck at life. It's really easy to blame my suckiness on Turkey because seriously, there are times when Turkey is totally conspiring against me. Of course, I handle these conspiracies better sometimes than others, so it's probably the case that when I suck at life, it's still mostly my fault.
That's because it's safe to say everything is my fault.
|Okay, this is India but I'm pretty sure the bank has a guy like this.|
One thing I realized about Turkey the other night when I couldn't sleep is that people say, shruggingly, "This is Turkey" only when something bad or annoying or scary or insanely catch-22ish happens. People in America never do that. We're more inclined to thump our chests and say, "This is America!" when something really great happens and there are fireworks and music and someone has discovered they're free as a bird to do something stupid, like launch themselves headfirst from a giant slingshot into a swamp. Fuck yeah! It's a free country!
It's only one of the differences between Turkey and America, but at 3am it seemed really significant.
Anyway, at the bank you file the talimat and wait for the bill to get paid and it doesn't happen. Then you go back to the bank to find out why, and they tell you it's because there's already a talimat on file at a different bank. They couldn't have possibly told you this before. So you tell them you already filed a talimat at the old bank to cancel the other talimat and they shrug and give that implacable look that says, "This is Turkey. Begone, silly foreigner. If you had the sociolinguistic skills to get around this problem like everyone else does, I'd let you talk me into it, but all this reason and logic bores me. Plus you have an accent and that's just weird. Oh, and we'll be snickering at you before the door hits your ass on the way out."
|Your friendly neighborhood muhtar welcomes you.|
That's what a catch-22 looks like from my side of the world. So now, all my bills are late because LE and I have been sick for the last couple of days. I went to pay them today at the post office at school, but they're on their lunch break during my lunch break and when I ran over there right before my classes started, their system was down. So I got out of work as quick as I could and stopped at home to pick up a prescription that comes up in Part 2 in this story, and rushed down to the bill-paying place that even takes your water bill, which the post office doesn't for some reason. The bill-paying place closes at 6 and I got there 2 minutes to 6-- their clock was the same as mine-- but the woman was all "We're closed" and I started to employ some of my barbaric wheedling skills to make people do what I want, but she said the system shuts down automatically and there was nothing she could do. At least she was nice about it, so I didn't get very mad.
But when I got outside it occurred to me once again that I'm sucking at life a lot these days.
When I'm sick is one of those times I don't handle Turkey problems well. And for the last couple weeks I haven't been sick-sick, just the kind of cloying, snotty sick that isn't enough to get out of work but is just enough to feel crappy and depressed because I fucking hate being sick and consider it a reflection of my weak character. And then there's the cough that has me doubled over by my 4th lesson of the day. That's starting to weigh on me too. My ribs hurt and people are starting to comment.
|I am the 99%|
So Monday morning I felt especially crappy after a sleepless night, and after breakfast I packed poor LE into a taxi to go to the doctor. I decided while we were there, I'd go to the doctor too. I was hoping for a super-sized bottle of Robitussin codeine cough syrup so I can party when I get better. LE's doctor visit went fine, except the great pediatrician that used to be there wasn't there anymore. And I had to pay full price because I didn't know BE doesn't pay LE's Bağ-Kur anymore until I tried to use it. I didn't want to call BE because he'd tell his mother LE was sick and the last thing I wanted was the litany of different kinds of deadly air I'd failed to protect my son from.
|Shit'll fucking kill you.|
My doctor visit was full price too. They don't take my private insurance and my SSK is, according to the woman there, not active. Quite why this should be the case I'll never know. I'm paying SSK out of my paycheck. I have a crappy, frayed pink card (pink is for girls, blue is for boys, even the state is enforcing this shit) with my picture stapled to it that I've been carrying around for 10 years. To make it active, she said, I have to go the such-and-such unspeakable place somewhere in Beşiktaş and do this, that, and the other thing. I just gave her my credit card before she finished because it sounded like a miserable way to spend a day off and I'll never get around to doing it, much like setting up my bills to be paid automatically.
|Coming for me.|
Like the bills not in my name, and the fact that I have two names in Turkey (another boring story), I'm sure the SSK thing will come back to bite me in the ass someday. Fuck it.
The doctor for grown-ups was a lovely, dapper fellow who I'm pretty sure should have retired about 20 years ago. The room was redolent of fresh cigarettes. LE was sort of slumped pink-faced and fat-lipped on the sofa with the fever the ped and I had agreed wasn't high enough to medicate and should just be allowed to do its job (points for the ped!). The doctor tried out some of his English on me.
"Alman mısıniz? Vere are you from? Şikayetiniz nedir? Vat is your compliant, yani, complaint?
So I went along with it and told him everything in Turkish and elementary English. He was delighted, and wondered if I'd be interested in practicing English with him. "Grip!" he pronounced. "You haf de infiluenza."
"Ama hiç ateşim yok. No fever."" I told him. So he got out his stethoscope for a listen. He went to undo the zipper on my cardigan with struck me as oddly intimate and patriarchal, but he wouldn't let me undo it until it got stuck. Then he had a listen to my chest. "Derin bir nefes alin. Deep bireathe." So I did, and I could feel all sorts of gross noises in there. He ordered a chest x-ray, at which point I decided the cigarettes have finally kicked me in the ass and this was the place I was going to find out I was going to die. LE was asleep by now.
|My chest x-ray. No, seriously.|
LE sacked out my lap while we waited for my death sentence. In the waiting room was one of those women who loves to talk about illnesses with everyone else in the waiting room. She had a kid with her who hardly seemed sick at all, but apparently he was very sick and had been getting sick for weeks with a cough and a stuffy nose and she gave him lots of fruit and everything, to no avail. Fortunately, there was another woman there who also liked this kind of conversation and they started talking about all the dangerous kinds of air that can hit you and everyone was happy. They were finishing each others' sentences by the time they got to the part about the air, and it occurred to me that a lot of my problem in Turkish isn't understanding what people say but why the hell they say it. The dapper doctor called me in before the women could attack me about my sick kid.
"Very bad," he said. "Bronchitis. My English has gotten very bad. If you're not busy you should stop by. I'll offer you tea or coffee and we can chat. Do you want to get better quickly or slowly?"
|But it looked so tasty and sweet!|
And now it's much later than I want it to be, which means I'm sucking at life again because I should have been in bed an hour ago. Stay tuned for the next post, wherein I work really hard to get a shot in the ass.
Eight of them, actually.