I Just Wanted To Say...

What is your problem?

Location: Georgia, United States

I am me. More than I was, less than I will be. This is difficult. Facts-female, southern, mother and grandmother. Abstract-a Christian, a loner, intelligent, somewhat arrogant, impatient with stupidity, an unusual sense of humor.


When I remember Turkey...

I joined the military in 1972. My first assignment after basic and specialty training was Turkey.
Culture shock. A whole new world that was little like the one I knew. I have a lot of memories of my time there, some good and some bad.

One of the things I remember well are the taxis.

My first taxi ride in Turkey was a completely terrifying event. When I began driving as a teenager, I was taught rules of the road and safety. I was a good driver, constantly aware of the need to drive carefully. As I said, this was a whole new world.

The taxi itself was strange. An ancient vehicle, dented and dinged on the outside, but decorated on the inside like the parlor of someone's home. Tasseled cushions on the back seat, a piece of carpeting on the floor, a soft and lovely seat cover, a tasseled cloth covered the back ledge with little statuettes sitting on it and a sign measuring about 6 x 18 hanging in the back window with an Arabic word beautifully lettered on both sides of it. It felt odd, but it amused me to sit in that back seat and find it so different from what I was accustomed to.

The driver got in, turned up his Arabic radio station, lit his smelly cigarette, and took off into heavy traffic as if he were the only driver within miles. For him, there were no such things as other cars, lanes of traffic, stop-lights, pedestrians, sidewalks or animals. Only him and the open road and speed. A trip that should have taken fifteen minutes took seven. I have never been more frightened.

When I reached my destination, my knees were shaking so badly that I almost couldn't walk. I was grateful to have survived. I talked about my experience with another American who had been there for a while and he enjoyed a good laugh at my expense. Then he explained to me the meaning of the sign hanging in the back window.

INSALLAH. As God wills.

My taxi driver had been a devout Muslim. He believed that if it was God's will for him to live, then no matter how insanely he drove, he would not be harmed or killed. Conversely, if God wanted him hurt or dead, then it didn't matter how carefully he drove, he would be hurt or die.

I respect an individual's right to their own beliefs, even if I disagree with them. But having a different perspective on life and personal responsibility, I kept something in mind the next time I needed to take a taxi.

God helps those who help themselves.


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