We did a lot of business in Turkey today in Kuşadasi and in Selçuk. We encountered banks and other professionals. It’s quite different from doing business in the UK. For a start, we have not made appointments; we’ve just wandered in and taken our chances. This has led to waiting around in air conditioned offices whilst the staff deal with people who came in before us. When the wait is long we have been offered çay, coffee and water.
We’ve achieved quite a lot with the banks in terms of organising our money. I can access my Turkish accounts on the Internet which, being who I am, I find very reassuring. The process, however, took up most of today.
The people who have dealt with us (in English) have been quite delightful and, probably irrelevantly, very attractive. They work incredibly hard. The lady who helps us here in Selçuk told me I could phone her any time up till 19:00. I am sure she works at least a twelve hour day, yet she is always helpful. When I thanked the lady who helps us at the Kuşadasi bank she told me she was just doing her job. They smile at us, they recognise us, they make us feel like individually valued customers. Occasionally I have come across that in the UK (the chap at the bank in Paddington who helped me set up the Turkish account for instance) but those people are the exceptions. Here they seem to be the rule. The minimal contacts we have had with officialdom have gone much the same way. The men in the passport office in Kuşadasi were extremely helpful and put straight the problems with the dates not having printed on the visas in our passports. We were sent to the café to wait as opposed to being offered tea, but it was a very interesting place to sit.
Ashley thinks that the fact that I try to speak a little Turkish helps a lot. I think it does help a bit. Security guards soften a little when I try to explain why we need to go to a particular place. People smile when I say something ‘unexpected’ even if it’s only ‘problem yok’ or ‘çok zor’ when they try to pronounce my name. It does, of course, remain to be seen how things will go in Izmir when we go for our residents permits next week.
I think it’s a very different work ethic. And different again from the kind of work we see going on around us in our street. We understand that we have to wait… We don’t like to move quickly in this hammering heat and I’m sure people who work 12 hour days don’t like to move too quickly either – even in the air conditioned offices. The pace of life is slower and there is more time for the niceties. I can understand that some people find this very frustrating but I go to these places expecting to have to wait and, nearly always, I wait less time than I had anticipated.