Monday, August 4, 2008

I know what comes next (or drama on public transport part 2 1/2)

So here's the scenario: The 9:40 a.m. bus that I take to work had not appeared at its usual time of 9:50. It was soon 10 and 10:10 and the 5 other people waiting with me at the stop were all visibly annoyed. Some of them had been waiting since 9:30 as they did not realize the schedule had changed for summer in June. The next scheduled bus showed up around 10:25, and before I boarded I knew there was going to be some drama.

Sure enough, the short, wiry, middle-aged woman who boarded behind me, as soon as she hit the steps of the bus, started in on the driver.

Woman, frantic high-pitched voice: What happened to the 9:30 bus? We've been waiting for so long. What's going on here?

Driver: That's not my problem. I don't drive the 9:30 bus.

Woman, now standing near the rear of the bus: We waited for almost an hour! What do you mean it's not your problem? I want an explanation!

Driver, stepping out of his little safety door: If you don't sit down and be quiet this bus isn't going anywhere! I've had enough!

Woman: You tell us what happened and I'll sit down!

Driver: Quiet! I've had enough of you!

This went on for a while longer and I really thought the driver might just get off the bus in a huff and walk away. But they finallly both shut up and we were on our way. If it had been a man yelling at the driver I'm sure they would've been up in each other's faces within seconds and other men would've jumped up to try and pull them away from each other. As she was a woman, the driver satisfied himself with just yelling down the length of the bus.

The term road rage has taken on a whole new meaning here in Turkey. OK, so the previous incident doesn't exactly fit the category, but is somewhat related: rage over not being able to hit the road on time, I suppose.

In another incident, I was heading to the bus station in Yenibosna when I saw a man crossing an onramp almost get hit by a car. The car grazed the man's backside and in the same moment the man whirled about and banged the car's hood with his fist. The car then screeched to a halt, the driver hopped out and the men began flailing at one another. The driver had the man on the ground when passers-by ran up to pull them apart, all the while with the two yelling at each other.

My theory is that Turks, particularly Turkish men, save up all their suppressed anger for the road. While they can be perfectly sane the rest of the time, behind the wheel they become raging madmen, ready to purposefully rear end the car in front of them if it has cut them off or otherwise offended. Almost daily I'll witness men yelling out of car windows at other drivers that have performed some maneuver to bring out the rage or even pulling over to argue and do violence to one another.

This is one of the many reasons that I've chosen not to drive here in Istanbul. In this case I think avoidance is a great coping mechanism. As well, it feels much safer to be riding around in the large rectangular metal cage that is a bus than a tiny passenger vehicle. I can be fairly sure that the bus will win in any clash of the metal deathtraps.

No comments: