Nick Papantonis

Multimedia Journalist

Road rage and puppies

               This past week has been marked by the usual plethora of new sights and experiences that one gets while studying abroad. I tried a lot of new food, went to the Black Sea (see previous post), met some interesting people, and almost got killed crossing the street six or seven times.

               However, I had two ten-second experiences that are worth highlighting because they will stick with me for a while. The first demonstrates the level of insanity road rage can get over here. The second had the potential to start World War 3.

               I believe I’ve mentioned the traffic situation more than a couple of times already, but to recap: it’s bad. Turkish people are really, really nice until they get behind the wheel of a car. Then, life is turned into a session of Mario Kart if everyone was armed with an unlimited supply of green turtle shells. Just pandemonium. They’re fantastic drivers (I’ve only witnessed a handful of crashes) but it’s straight up scary.

               The particular incident took place in downtown Ortaköy while I was on my way to class Monday morning. We were stopped at a traffic light behind a couple of cars, waiting for the signal to turn green. Morning traffic is fairly light in our area, which meant the road ahead was clear.

               The light turned green, and the car in front didn’t move. As usual, after a quarter second the other cars (and our bus driver) turned the intersection into a horn chorus. Normally, the driver would figure things out and step on the gas, but this one didn’t. He continued to sit.

               This was a fatal error. In most circumstances, the rest of the vehicles would drive around the distracted driver, but as luck had it, it’s one-way in both directions and the other side was busy.

               Suddenly, three men stepped out of the second car in line, walked up to the offending car, and busted in its back windows. Like, smashed to pieces, pounding them over and over again. The driver got the message and GUNNED IT- which was the smart decision as the men were about to go for his windshield.

               Fresh off their victory, the men returned to their car and, after buckling in, drove away. The amount of time they took to move was long, but for once, not one horn sounded.

 A wave breaks on the beach at Alanya, Turkey

A wave breaks on the beach at Alanya, Turkey

               My second story just took place this afternoon, on the beaches of Alanya (more on that tomorrow). Yes, World War III was nearly started today during a very fierce standoff between my American right shoe and an Iranian puppy.

               I was finishing my walk along the beautiful Mediterranean Sea late in the day when I came across one of those little fountains that clean your feet. Sensing an opportunity to not track sand everywhere in my hotel room, I put my shoes down (I had been carrying them) and rinsed off.

               At the same time, a very nice couple walked up to the fountain with their energetic 4-month old Golden Retriever puppy. They explained that their dog was thirsty and asked if it could get a quick drink. I happily obliged (I figured I could get permission to pet it afterwards) and stepped aside.

               I don’t remember exactly how it happened, but somewhere in the middle of introductions and the dog lapping away at the water, its leash was dropped. The pup was one second ahead of both its owners and myself- and the second it realized it was untethered, it grabbed my helpless shoe and took off running down the beach. With its two owners sprinting after it (I just stood there and laughed).

               Yes, the shoe was retrieved with no damage to it, but not before an overjoyed puppy was wrestled into submission. It was only after the return of my shoe that I was told the couple (and their dog) were Iranian.

               An Iranian stole a piece of American property. Imagine if others were around at the time- the two countries have threatened war over far less for decades. This could have been the start of a massive global war. Thankfully, the Iranians recognized the error in the situation (though the actual thief seemed unrepentant) and the property was quickly surrendered. So war averted for now.

               And yes, a petting session commenced once both shoes were firmly secured on my feet.

NICK@WPDE.COM | @NICKPAPANTONIS

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