The Nice Thing About Strangers

Creative Non-Fiction Short Stories. :) Travel, Oldsters, Love, and Compassion.

Because I am Learning

The clerks at the market wear the same black polo shirts, the same nametags, the same gazes up from where they sit to where customers stand. When it is my turn, my clerk asks if I have their shopper’s card. I answer, “Yok.” (A situational version of no. They have versions of no. Heaven help me.) And she grins so much that I feel I’ve made a mistake with just a single word. So I ask, using the formal conjugations through we are the same age, if I’ve answered the question correctly. I don’t have the shopper’s card, so I should say, “Yok”? She is smiling so much I think even my question is somehow off the mark. She assures me–in her native tongue, but loudly and slowly–that I am correct. I tell her with a sigh that I keep trying to learn Turkish and she nods, “Because of marriage?”

I blush, “No!” She laughs. It is hard for me to say why I have been learning this language, why I have been so calmly and humiliatingly keeping at it. It is hard for me to communicate why I am choosing to be somewhere that I cannot communicate, but where every small victory seems so large. I can’t tell her it is the challenges, the folk singers, the immigrants I met in Vienna, or one completely impossible love story. These are not things you can say at a grocery store when you’re not even certain that you said “Yok” properly.

“No,” I explain, “No, because–because I am learning.”

This also makes her laugh, yet she finally understands. Next time, I will endeavor the shopper’s card application. I can’t promise, but I will.

–Izmir, Turkey.

So after our chat, I went home and cooked this from scratch. Just joking, I paid my neighbor for dinner. :)

So after our chat, I went home and cooked this from scratch. Just joking, I paid my neighbor for dinner. 🙂

10 comments on “Because I am Learning

  1. janegundogan
    January 18, 2016

    Sometimes I feel like having the card “Migros” or other is like opening a can of worms. You have the card? Oh you get a discount! What’s your mobile. And then without fail – practically daily – you get a SMS. Discount! Discount! Discount!! And when you are standing in the queue its “Bak! Diswashing liquid or deoderant or a sewing kit – half off! You must buy it!” Yok! Is not a strong enough sentiment lol!

    • thenicethingaboutstrangers
      January 20, 2016

      Wow, you knew this was in Migros? That’s amazing! 🙂 I have a card for another Turkish chain that was near my place in Istanbul, but I don’t recall the name. I don’t think I gave them any contact information. 🙂 It’s good to know! (As are many ways to say no, polite and otherwise.) 😀

      • janegundogan
        January 20, 2016

        And when they ask for your telephone no. like at Bershka you end up getting SMS’s from them too. Does my head in! Dont get me started on the Hoppo (Hippo) discounts from YKM or Boyner. Will send me over the edge LMAO!

  2. Darlene
    January 19, 2016

    That meal looks so delicious! I am not doing very well with my Spanish either but the Spanish folks are so forgiving. Hasta pronto!

    • thenicethingaboutstrangers
      January 20, 2016

      Darlene, I think that’s a sign that you’re somehow a local. I have definitely relied upon patience from others and with myself. 🙂

  3. joannerambling
    January 19, 2016

    Learning for the sake of learning is always good

  4. sweetexp
    January 19, 2016

    Oh my gosh Paige:))) I just love looking at that picture as I am cooking, or eating a great meal. Thank you my fellow TAM family member:) for getting me this culture. I sooo, look forward to the Tam meet up! Hope to get my book by you, autographed by you;)


    • thenicethingaboutstrangers
      January 20, 2016

      Keith, I can’t wait either! I am looking forward to Spring for a variety of reasons. My Turkish neighbors were pretty awesome cooks. I should have taken a few lessons.

  5. TheLastWord
    January 20, 2016

    Never stop learning, which reminds me…. I have an exam to schedule. But first! I have to study for it… Ah well..

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This entry was posted on January 18, 2016 by in Travel, Turkey, Writing and tagged , , .

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