On the Bus

I’m doing something somewhat crazy – bussing it around the country. This is an education in itself. The bus system is well-organized and extremely civilized, designed for an evermore sophisticated populace. The bus I’m on is to Usak, a two-horse town in the middle of western Turkey, and it has movie service, and a server who sprinkles perfume on your hands every few minutes. In between he’s traveling up and down the aisle serving Coke and pretzels. But it’s still Turkey: men sit only with men, women only with women, and we stopped about a half-hour outside of Antalya to wait for a passenger who was late. Twenty minutes for whom? A farmer-woman who came screeching up in a taxi, chucked three massive sacks of tomatos and cucumbers in the hold and waddled on board. One last item: I started a near-riot at the ticket counter at the bus station, having bought my ticket and then forgotten it at the counter. Five guys were trying to get on the sold-out bus, and two of them grabbed my ticket and claimed it for themselves. When I realized my error I returned to face a crowd surrounding a burly man, red in the face, clutching my ticket for dear life; the cops were called, I had to literally tear my ticket out of his hand, restraining myself from slapping his clenched fist, like I might one of my kids. But I made a bunch of new Turkish friends.