This week I have been at the hotel with Mr A every day. Mehmet and Davut left on Tuesday morning. It was very quiet here and they were anxious to go home to their families in the east of Turkey, rather than sitting around doing nothing.
But we still need to earn money, so Mr A is continuing with my help. OK I can't do massage ...well I can but not to the same standard as Mr A. But I have been applying face masks to customers, and haven't yet managed to poke anyone's eyes out with the brush. And I am doing all the cleaning, sorting out laundry, talking to customers, and generally doing what I can to keep the business ticking over. We are trying to keep going until the end of this month.
Yesterday was a good day. We had nine customers who had the full package...sauna, hamam, face mask, face massage, full body massage. If you can imagine it...one customer needs at least an hour for their treatments so Mr A was working flat out, without a break. We started at 8.30am and didn't get home until after 10.00pm last night. And we left home at 7.30 this morning to start all over again.
We have again been scraping money together to buy an old car. With yesterday's business we managed to finally raise enough, and today Mr A will collect our car. It is a very very old car, but it goes. Please will you all keep your fingers crossed that it keeps going without any problems!
I mentioned "acting" in my post title. Let me tell you something about Mr A. Something you may have picked up on in some of my many posts about his adventures. Mr A is the Turkish equivalent of Delboy. He's always been a bit of a wheeler-dealer..he lives by his wits (and often by the skin of his teeth) most of the time.
We have had a series of motorbikes and cars over the years. Mr A changes them frequently. They don't always have the correct paperwork...and this can occasionally cause a problem if he is stopped by the traffic police. My first experience of this many years ago, being stopped by the police on the way from Antalya to Side, caused me great anxiety. Mr A produced his paperwork...not completely in order...and the police made several phone calls. There was much conversation between them, and then Mr A gave one of the policemen a number from his mobile phone. The policeman rang the number, spoke to the person at the other end, handed Mr A his papers, and sent us on our way.
The story behind this is that wherever we have lived, Mr A will spend some time at the local men-only teahouses. These are also frequented by traffic police, jandarma officers, etc. Mr A is a very sociable and likeable man. He makes many friends. He always makes sure that he becomes friends with the Chief of Traffic Police in every area we live in. So this was the person at the other end of the phone when we were stopped.
At the risk of someone Turkish reading this blog and reporting me (I'll chance it)...there is a lot of corruption in the police and jandarma. Everyone has a price. It's very easy to slip an officer a backhander and avoid being prosecuted or fined. It's even better of course if you happen to have a friend who is a high-ranking officer!
You might think I'm being quite blase about all this. I'm not of course. Before I lived in Turkey I was an upstanding law-abiding citizen. So I was shocked to discover that Mr A is by no means the only one who is willing to talk or bribe his way out of a difficult situation, or indeed to do a bit of name-dropping.
I was once driving our car in Cappadocia, when I was stopped by the traffic police. I was alone, and wasn't even sure whether I had the correct paperwork, but I had to deal with it. So I got out of the car, made out I understood not one word of Turkish....and then I burst into tears. I have to admit that I was upset enough to cry, but it wouldn't have lasted long. I did need to get myself out of the situation so I had to keep up the weeping for a while longer. It worked...Turkish men hate it when women cry...and they soon waved me on my way.
The motorbike we are using at the moment isn't ours. It belongs to a friend of Mr A. It has no number plates! Mr A has been using it all summer. There are two traffic police checks between Milas and Bodrum, and somehow he has managed to avoid being stopped. He seems to have a few tricks up his sleeve that work in getting him past the checks...but I have no idea how he does it.
Yesterday morning on the way to the hotel, I was on the back of the motorbike, and the traffic police stopped us. As we pulled up Mr A said to me "You're ill...OK?" We got off the motorbike and Mr A told the officer that his wife was sick, he had borrowed the motorbike (at least that bit was true) and was taking me to hospital. Mr A hasn't yet managed to meet the chief of police in this area, so clearly there needed to be some acting on my part. So I clutched my stomach and groaned. The policemen and Mr A had a conversation. I couldn't really understand how it was going, so I groaned a bit more...and a bit louder. "OK" said the officer "off you go". Honestly, I reckoned I deserved an Oscar for my performance!
I don't feel particulaly proud of having to behave this way on occasions...but I can assure you that this is how life has become here.
However. Hopefully all this stops today. Our "new" car has all the correct paperwork. Mr A has all his correct paperwork. We will be driving legally at last. And I will not be taking up acting as my new career!