The Turkish text messages I've been getting have been telling me I'm out of minutes on my calling plan. I know this because....well, here's the story.
Taking a left out of my apartment building takes me to the center of town. As I get closer and closer to the center, my hopes are rising. This is a big city with several nice boulevards, tree-lined streets, sidewalks, flowers, and landscaping. It's pretty. A few blocks closer to the center and I'm greeted by thousands of shops, lots of shoppers, lots of traffic, the smell of fresh baked bread, etc. If I change the alphabet on the signs, I can almost imagine downtown NYC without the skyscrapers. Keeping with my mission, I enter the first Turkcell store I see. It's a small shop, no more than an aisle wide and the shopkeeper speaks no English. After hand gestures and writing a few words from my dictionary, he's able to understand my request, I think, draws me a map and sends me to a bigger shop. But, before I get to the bigger shop, I run across a medium sized Turkcell shop with three employees. With my notepad, dictionary, pictures, and pointing I am unsuccessful and making any sense, but one of the employees pulls out his fall, calls a friend, and hands the phone to me. Here's the conversation:
Hello! Do you speak English?
Yes. I lived 2 years in Arkansas. What do you want?
I'm trying to add minutes to my sim card so I can call my family.
Give me 10, maybe 15 minutes, and I'll right there.
Ok. Thank you.
So, I sat down in this tiny shop waiting for a Turkish stranger who had lived in Arkansas and spoke English to come help me. About 15 minutes later, he arrived and apologized for the time it took him to get there. (Can you imagine apologizing..here I was so grateful that he would come help me on the beginning of his holiday that I would have waited hours...and, no, I'm not exaggerating..I was that desperate for help.) I showed him my Turkish text message. I explained my situation. And, with his help, I was able to 1) get more minutes 2) learn about some great hiking trails near Malatya and 3) add and English speaking Turk to my contact list. As a matter of fact, I will star him as a "favorite."