Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Sometimes life just takes you in a direction you don't anticipate. And sometimes you just have to give in and enjoy the ride.

I had a flat tire today. My second in 2 weeks. It was pointed out to me by two well-meaning gentlemen in the car next to me. On my way to play tennis. My one "expat wife" thing that I do every Monday. Matt is still away (still...) so I arranged for a friend to take the kids to school. You should know that I'm not good at tennis. I'm a beginner. At our annual tournament, when people asked how i did, I could honestly say, "Someone has to come in last place." And, truly, I don't care. I have fun, like my teammates, and believe it or not, I've improved since the beginning of the year.

I'm 10 minutes away and it is pointed out to me that I have a flat tire. I find an appropriate spot to pull over at the entrance to a park. Not the front entrance, but the back, where all the heavy equipment is and all the park employees roll into work every morning. First of all, I can't believe I have ANOTHER flat tire. What's the deal?

The guvenlik, or security guards, all come to inspect. At first I think, right, I'm not an invalid, I can change a tire. And I COULD, if I could READ the jack instructions in a language I UNDERSTAND. So I begin to think about hailing a cab to pay him to change the tire.

Suddenly a new guard comes up and I recognize him as a guard who used to work at the school. He recognizes me and we say our hellos. Tea is offered, so of course I must accept. Again I try to explain that I have to be somewhere soon and I can take the tire to get repaired in our little village of Zekeriyakoy if I can just get the tire changed. My new best friend, Mert, assures me that he will take care of everything and quickly takes off on a motorbike.

His friend, Tuncay, engages me in conversation and asks where I am from. When I tell him I cam from America, he begins to tell me of his love affair with Manhattan. He LOVES Manhattan, it's beautiful, and he wants to move there. He then proceeds to tell me how much is salary is and asks if he can make that much or more in Manhattan. He has seen movies and knows he would like to live there.

I try to explain that I haven't actually lived in Manhattan since 1993 and I'm not sure what the salaries are like these days. I don't bother trying to explain that everyday life is just a little different than it is on the TV and in the movies. He asks me how hard it is to get a visa into the U.S. I try hard not to laugh.

Back returns Mert, who tells me his "friend" will be there in 10 minutes to repair the tire. Again i try to explain that I just want to change the tire but I realize the situation has moved out of the realm of my control. More tea is served. More discussions about salaries in Manhattan.

Of course this is all being conducted in my poor attempts to speak Turkish. When Tuncay asks me if I have kids, I know I should say "I have two kids", and I actually know how to say this, but it comes out "I my two kids."

Finally "friend" appears and fills my tire up with air and diagnoses the problem as a leaky air valve. Once again I try to explain that if we can just change the tire I can get it repaired. But no, there will be none of that. More tea is served and our little group has grown to four persons; we discuss the beautiful weather.

My tire is pumped up with air and I am told to drive quickly behind "friend" to his shop so he can repair the tire for 20 YTL (about $16). As if I have a choice.

As I drive I can hear the hissing of the air leaving my tire with great speed. We make it to the shop, I am again offered tea, and "friend" repairs the tire in about 10 minutes. It's all about the 10 minutes and the tea.

By the time all is said and done, I have consumer 3 or 4 glasses of tea, my tire is completely repaired and I have missed my hour of tennis. But I have lots of new friends.

And if any of you in Manhattan are looking for an eager, hard-working, very nice Turkish-speaking security guard who makes a mean cup of Turkish tea...

New Turkish Vocabulary
lastik - tire

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