Friday, December 7, 2007

Hitting The Bus

Did I mention that I had a Minor Altercation with a large red metro bus?

Mmmm… I didn’t think so. That was fun. And now I have a formal introduction to the ways of processing a car accident here in Turkey. I dearly hope I won’t need the information for future reference, but I’m not holding my breath.

The whole event was more unfortunate and annoying than anything else. I didn’t even hit the bus, I merely rolled a bit too close to it. We each remained motionless for a minute while the traffic was stopped, and then when the bus started up, his protruding back bumper hooked my headlight. Completely my fault, but really no big deal. A $14.95 light for my car, and a bus bumper that someone could have banged back with a hammer. At home we would exchange licenses and insurance info and be on our way in ten minutes. But we are not at home.

The most important thing to remember is that if you move your car after an accident here, you are automatically at fault. Each vehicle has to remain exactly in place until the traffic police arrive (oh yeah, you can imagine the possibilities). So since chances are you will be sitting there for a while, one hopes that a) the accident occurs in a remote traffic-free zone where you are not subject to the anger of delayed commuters and b) that there aren’t a lot of other accidents that morning to take up the time of the traffic police. I was lucky with neither.

It took the police three hours to get to the scene. We kept calling them and they assured us they were on their way and then finally, after two hours and many phone calls later, admitted they had 150 accidents to deal with that morning and would be a bit delayed. ANY OTHER location in the world I would have said, “Yeah, right – spare me the theatrics.” In Ankara I can only say, “150? That’s all?” The modern day Sisyphus is alive and well and He Is A Traffic Cop here in Ankara.

So after they finally show up, it takes another hour to process the accident. You each give your side of the story to the policeman who diligently writes it down. Oh, AND you have to submit to a breathalyzer test. All this for a busted headlight and dislodged bumper. Fortunately I skipped my usual beer-on-my-Cheerios breakfast that morning and my drunk and disorderly morning conduct was nowhere to be seen.

So lest you think that you are done, you need to go to the Central Police station a few days later for the judgment. They give you a copy of your statement which somehow doesn’t quite match what you said, but that you are allowed to correct. Those of you that know me will laugh at the image of me firmly but politely telling this mass of Turkish police that “no, no, I never HIT the bus, just sort of ROLLED into it. That needs to be changed.” My husband always laughs at me splitting hairs when it never matters. As it were, I was deemed 100% at fault. Which is true, although they often rule against the foreigner.

So, four hours of my time and a trip to the police station. And the epilogue? I’ve become insufferable because I can say to my husband, who hates my car, “That’s why I bought a junker. The odds were just too high.”

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