Monday, September 12, 2011

Police Station

Greeting me at the door to school today was the head master who informed me, via my translator, (one of the Turkish English teachers) that we had to go to the police station after lunch. I didn't think twice about it until we actually arrived at the police station, a concrete grey structure with an armed police officer casually sporting a machine gun across his chest. Then visions of the movie "Midnight Express" popped into my head and became even sharper as we began the ascent up five flights of stairs. My pulse quickened and my jovial self became somber. The only thing decorating the otherwise stark, cold stairwell, was a lone Turkish pay telephone. I was immediately looking for jail cells and imagining this phone as the "one call home" phone. Granted, I was letting my imagination get the best of me because I was accompanied by the head master, the school manager, and Seda, my translator, and they wouldn't take us all in, would they?...

At the top of the stairs we were ushered into a small office furnished in typical Turkish office style: desk, small table placed in the center front of the large desk and chairs surrounding this desk. Pleasantries were exchanged, hands were shook, and the clerk was sent out for tea. Several minutes later the tea tray filled with hot glasses of tea and a sugar bowl was placed on the small table. A few more minutes of cordial conversation took place, hot tea was sipped, and then, almost like a magic switch was turned on, the conversation got down to brass tacks, so to speak. I could understand very little of the conversation about me, but I know it centered on "Work visa", "How did you find her?","How long will she be here?" and "How is she going to teach English when she doesn't speak Turkish?" (I wonder that myself) but I just smiled and tried to look Mary Poppinish... I am actually curious about how they found me. I know how I found them...

At this point the clerk smiled at me (and I knew I wouldn't be locked away), another clerk took my passport (I hate to let that thing out of my sight), and a third clerk mentioned a number "in American dollars" and 4 passport photos. We all stood up, shook hands, ( I guess we don't kiss the cheeks of officials..but we do everyone else)and descended quickly..time for a smoke..

So, I do not yet have a work visa, but I did go to a lovely photography studio where I drank some more tea, spoke English to the photographer's 5th grade daughter, and left with an 8x10 and 16 passport photos of crooked-toothless-angry smirk that I can't bare to look at. It should be just fine for a work visa.

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