Monday, November 03, 2008

Sakin oldum

I'm mellowing. Anger Management Classes seem but a distant memory.

Why, I can't fathom. Perhaps age is finally teaching me that exploding aortas and bursting jugulars fail to keep me in a good state of mind.

I've never been proud of my temper, which, until age thirty, lay dormant like the pre-1883 Krakatoa. Family values instilled in me ensured I always smiled, no matter the situation and regardless how offensive, rude, barbarous and ignorant the person in front of me might be. Elder family members were the height of English hypocritical politeness, and from them I learned always to say nothing at the required moment but wait until, cup of tea in hand, complaints could surge forth vociferously around the kitchen table. Highly constructive.

At high school I never once remember losing my temper or speaking out against those who had wronged me. I was too meek and mild for my own good and can't imagine how much of a wimp I must have appeared to those around me. I was never in a scuffle at school and used to avoid anyone I found aggressive or threatening.

Then of course, as it always does, something snapped. Not in the kind of way that a North American might crack, leave the house, buy a gun and randomly shoot any living creature along the way. I learned to focus my anger like a guided SCUD, and rarely missed my target.

As the staff in the ANZ Bank Market St branch one day discovered, asking me to collect my new credit card and then not having it ready for the aforementioned collection was poor customer service. In hindsight it certainly wasn't acceptable to threaten to return with a sawn-off shotgun, and with foresight the whole thing might have been taken a lot more seriously had the event occurred post the Two-Big-Buildings-Come-Down-And-Governments-Retract-Civil-Liberties era.

Further, I'd like to remark that while intimidation and menace are hardly attractive in themselves, I've never since experienced garbage customer service at the hands of the Australian and New Zealand banking peoples. They always smile after swiping my card and I can't help but think there's something flashing up on the computer screen to caution them.

And the urologist deservedly had it coming. How special can a specialist doctor be if, two hours after the appointed time reserved one month before you are still sitting in a corridor wading through last year's TIME and Vogue and National Gun Association Family Excursion gazette? Out of patience, I remember knocking on the doctor's door and, receiving no answer, barging my through demanding an explanation for such tardiness. Unfortunately for him, telling me the first thing about being a patient is to be patient was not the desired rejoinder, so I told him where to stick his homonyms and the gathered storm clouds let forth a sub-continental downpour. It rained expletives.

Long after I was punching backpacking partners while ambulating through holy towns in India, throwing electric fans across hotel rooms in Vietnam, shouting at inhospitable hospitality staff all around the world and generally acting like an Israeli recently released from military service.

However, I've calmed right down. As I teacher of children I still need to raise my voice every so often. But the death threats and possible grievous bodily harm has come to a halt. I can maintain a calm state of mind, lucid thoughts and logical arguments when angry. Even when confronted by a repentant and terrified eleven year-old.

Istanbul is my medicine.

First, it is not possible to survive in a city of this many millions if you are going to throw a wobbly. To cope with the endless traffic and teeming, swarming crowd, you just have to chill. I learned this early on after discovering the average Turk cannot walk in a straight line. Exiting a shop, a Turk rarely looks neither right nor left to see if a person might cross his path. Taxi drivers are responsible for so many social faux-pas that to let it bother you would spell your doom. Turks do not say please or thank you easily and irresponsibly. And I've eventually beat my entrenched prejudice that my mother's way of dealing with the world was the only civilised one.

I've had to change my perceptions. Friendliness is conceivably even more important than politeness, though for a long time it was politeness, and the way I perceived it, that took the upper hand. I now believe them to be two separate and distinct things.

Naturally, particular aspects of la Comedie humaine still really do my head in. A few weeks ago, when the imam refused to open the mosque that my cat could escape and return home, I definitely uttered some atrocities under my breath about him, religion, and religious people, all regardless of denomination. But I didn't shout and my cat returned home safely the following morning, looking a little more ecstatic than usual.

And of course, I've become my own boss. This, more than anything else, has contributed to my state of chilled-out well-being. I don't have to attend any meetings, perhaps humanity's most pointless achievement.

Personally, I think the proof is my inability to cuss in Turkish. As an Australian, and according to transformational grammar theory, I would have been born with an innate capacity for swearing. And I was. In Paris I successfully managed to upset a lot of Frenchies too with Moliere's tongue but foul Turkic terms do not flow easily from my mouth.

Maybe these people are just a lot nicer to me.


ASLI XXX said...

Jamesciğim, 'lütfen' sinirleneceğin zaman bana kaçmam için zaman tanı. Yanımda her zaman gülümsediğin için 'çok teşekkür ederim'. :P

Beyaz Türk ASLI XXX

James said...

Bir şey değil canım.

Aslında yazdığımdan bir şey farkettin... burada çok sakın oldum.

Doktorsun olduğunu doğru fakat arkadaşız! En önemli şey bu: ürolog değilsin!