Beyond the Western
His father’s last wish was to have his ashes buried in Turkey, the land of his birth. Haluk, having lived in the United States all his life had never once considered a trip to Turkey, but he felt the need to honor the last wish of his dying father.
Having never traveled out of the country. Haluk was excited to be on his way to Istanbul.
Once there, he booked a room along the bustling Istiklal Avenue. His eyes were opened to many new and exciting things like the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, Galata Tower and the Spice Bazaar. He enjoyed the city for a full week before he took the time to sprinkle his fathers ashes among the flowers in Gulhane Park.
The following day, before leaving for home he decided to take one last drive around the city. As he drove, he wasn’t paying more attention to the sights than to his driving. A bicycle rider swerved in front of his car and Haluk hit him.
He stopped and got out to see if the rider was OK. A police officer pulled up behind him and got out to investigate.
“It was an accident. He seems to be OK,” Haluk remarked.
“May I see your drivers license,” asked the officer.
“I’m from the United States. The car is rented.”
“Then may I see your U.S. Drivers license and your papers.”
Haluk suddenly realized he didn’t have either of them. “I’m afraid I’ve left my wallet and my passport in my hotel room,” he replied.
“I see, replied the officer. “Did you know it is against the law to be without your papers while visiting this country. For hitting this poor man and damaging his property and for not having your passport with you, I’m going to have to take you to the station until we can get this straightened out.”
“My drivers license and my passport are in my hotel room. We can go there and get them,” suggested Haluk.
Haluk didn’t want to go to the station. He would miss his flight. He had heard that most policemen in Turkey would accept a cash payment to keep from having to arrest someone. He thought it might be worth a try. He asked the officer to step over to his car. He then pulled two crumpled twenty dollar bills from his pants pocket and held them out toward the officer. “This is the only paper I have on me,” he sheepishly stated.
“What is this? Are you trying to bribe me? Now you are under arrest.”
Haluk shoved the money back into his pocket and began to protest. “No, I wasn’t trying to bribe you, really. This is a misunderstanding. I only, I only… No you can’t arrest me. I need to go home. I can’t miss my flight.”
The officer grabbed Haluk, pushed him up against the car and placed the cuffs on him. “Hitting a man on his bike, no drivers license, not carrying your papers, offering a police officer a bribe and now resisting arrest. You are digging yourself into a very deep hole young man.”
Haluk was put into the police car and taken to a police station where he was thrown into a damp, musty and dimly lit cell with several seedy looking men. They smiled and looked him over carefully.
One of the men said something to the others and they all laughed. Haluk didn’t understand the language.
Translation: “Look Kuzey, a young one.”
The men advanced toward Haluk. He called out for help, but the screamed went unheard. Haluk was about to lose more than his money.
© Copyright 2020 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.