Turkish Delights – Day One: Queues and Car-sharing

Landing in Bodram Airport was like most other airports – walking off the plane through the suspended corridor and into the arrivals lobby. The floor was an impressive shiny marble. We walked quickly, to be as near to the front of the passport control queue as possible.  But then we hit a huge wall of people.

A crowd forming at an exit has to quickly define itself into a recognisable queue-shape. You can feel the pressure, the urgency, the anxiety for it to do so. Failure or hesitation means that less reputable people can push in, overtake and cheat. And they will do so without being noticed and brought to account. They will pretend they didn’t see the queue, that the queue was unclear. They will walk past with a look of innocence to the front and the worst they will get is a glare or a muttering. Sometimes a queue splits in two – both halves believe they are the proper queue and that the other queue is an illegitimate child, a sucker.

Our queue was getting its act together quite well. It was snaky and quite wide, but well- shaped and as yet undivided. We joined it compliantly at the back like good citizens. Being in a queue as a group affords individuals with the opportunity to grab free time whilst they keep your place. I opted out to visit the Turkish toilets. I noticed a queue for the women’s facilities. These women had left one queue to join a sub-queue.  A woman in front of another woman in the sub-queue could be behind her in the master  queue. Who was in front now?

My daughter’s boyfriend said that whenever you are in a queue, you should be sure about what you are queuing for. Wise words. By the time I returned from the toilets, he had discovered that we had joined the Visa queue. As we had bought ours in advance, we could skip straight to the Passport queue. We were happy, begging the pardon of those poor, helpless people doomed in the Visa queue as we pushed through them to join the more exclusive Passport queue. We reckoned we had saved a least 40 minutes. My wife was rather pleased with herself for downloading the Visa forms last week.

An hour later our Schadenfreude had received its just deserts. We were marooned at the baggage carousel, with just two of our cases and no sight of the rest. One by one, those unfortunates we had left behind in the Visa queue filtered through, collecting their cases. Did I detect a glint of smugness?

I left the others to collect the luggage, in an attempt to steal back any remaining advantage by getting to our hire car kiosk ahead of the masses. Another pointless exercise of queue avoidance as it turned out.  I followed the signs to the car hire kiosks – none of which matched the name on our voucher. As an experienced hirer of foreign cars, I knew this was not necessarily an issue – these companies masquerade under the names of others – and most of them turn out to be Hertz. I asked at a desk – he sent me outside. I walked out of the airport and past the annoying crowd of drivers holding up boards with peoples’ names.

Having asked several people for its location, I resorted to reading the voucher. It was a meet and greet service. And there was my man, stood outside the exit with my name on a placard in rather unmissable large letters. I said hello to him and explained, as best I could, that the rest of my family were collecting our luggage. He put my name down and held up another one.

Eventually the others arrived, along with the family named on the second placard and we all followed him out of the airport and into the car park. We arrived at our vehicle, and he filled in the form leaning on its bonnet. I signed something I could not possibly read,. The vehicle was a large people carrier, amusingly with curtains.

All seemed straightforward and in order. Some excitable conversations were going on with the other family. Another man arrived. He was more excitable than the original man and more animated. He talked about “Having a solution to the problem”. It wasn’t clear what this problem was.

“This is your car” he insisted and then proceeded to rattle off some plan he had concocted. It was all very confusing. “If you agree” he said to me. I didn’t agree to anything. We worked it out. There was only one vehicle – theirs was 4 km away.  He wanted me to give the other family a lift

Our vehicle was a 7 seater and there were 5 of us, with luggage. The other family comprised 6 people – including two small children. Mere details. Soon they were all squeezing into our vehicle.  I got into the driver’s seat, with my son next to me and the other family’s grandad next to him. The other 8 were squeezed into the back with countless suitcases. At least two people were sat on the floor . As we were about to set off, the original guy from the airport jumped in to give directions.

And so I set off – 11 people’s lives in my hands in a vehicle I had never driven, in a country I had never driven in, on the wrong side of the road, undoubtedly not insured. I seemed to have no petrol  and it was dark and the gearbox felt like a bowl of walnuts.

I manoeuvred us carefully through a narrow gate using forward and reverse gears. Grandad on the front seat asked me whether I had ever driven in Turkey before, I said “no” but I have been to India.

In fact it was all rather straight forwards. I stayed in low gears to drag the considerable weight on decent roads and kept to a reasonable speed – even if that annoyed drivers behind. We arrived 4km up the road at some off-road parking area to drop off our passengers. Disappointingly none of them left me a tip. But they were very grateful, and they only took their own bags.  And we were glad to have been able to help them out. OF course an alternative would have been to drop off the car hire man, and for him to take their vehicle back to them.

So three lessons in life:-

However much you rush through life and try to claim an advantage, in the end it comes down to the order your bags are loaded onto the carousel.

If you don’t clearly disagree with someone, you will find that you have agreed with him.

And finally, a good deed has its own reward – even if you were manipulated into it. So drive carefully and with good grace. There is more satisfaction in helping others than being in front of them in the queue.

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