Tuesday, February 17, 2009


In San Francisco, there was always a lot of hullabaloo about fare skippers sneaking onto the bus or hopping over the subway turnstile in order to ride without paying. On the bus tonight in Istanbul, I watched two young men board through the back door. The bus was fairly crowded, so it's highly doubtful that the driver could have seen them, but they dutifully handed one bus pass and a small stack of change to the woman standing next to me, who then gave it to the person next to her, and on and on all the way to the front of the bus and then (in the case of the pass) back again. This is a totally normal occurrence. So is having a shopkeeper run off with your money--only to return five minutes later after going to all the other neighborhood stores before finding someone who could give him the proper change. I'm sure there will come a day when this sort of casual trust seems as strange in Turkey as it would in America. I would just hate to be around to watch it erode.


Nomad said...

I was shocked too when I first noticed this. The other day, I was in a bar and the waiter came to me and handed me my wallet that had slipped out my back pocket. It is a strange feeling to be humiliated, stunned and pleased at the same time!

Gila said...

Happens here in Israel, too. I suspect it is a Middle East thing.