On the Importance of Identification, sort of.

So I know people who’ve traveled more extensively than I would scoff at Mediterranean bureaucracy, having probably dealt with Indian bureaucracy or whatever before, but sometimes this place really makes me scratch my head.

I went to the British Council for an IELTS training day with Bossman and a few other assorted teachers from work. The British Council is located in one of those fancy pants office buildings that sell five lira cans of coke in the canteen, and there was a whole system of security to get through- identification had to be produced and surrendered, and then a replacement identification card was issued that, when you’d gone through the metal detector/bag scanner thing, swiped you through a turnstile. Standard operating procedure in a city deeply and intractably afraid of terrorism.

I gave the Nice Desk Lady my passport and got my swipey i.d. card thing, and stood there staring vacantly into space while everyone else milled around and tried to get themselves sorted. (I do really hate going places with large groups of people.) I sort of snapped to when Bossman started pacing around, clearly agitated, and pulled out his cellphone.

“What’s up? Is there a problem?” I asked.

“Hold on sweets.” He paced off and started hollering at someone on the other end of the line in Turkish.

“They won’t accept his residence permit,” his girlfriend explained.

“Why not?” Even though they’d just accepted my passport I had a brief moment of panic, because all this permitey stuff, guys, it really stresses me out.

“My permit expired last week, so they won’t accept it.”

Guys, there’s a huge backlog for getting a residence permit here, so basically there’s a lot of folks in limbo. As long as you have an appointment number, your legal standing is okay. But you can’t leave the country, and it’s a huge pain in the ass.

“Did you give them your appointment number? You carry that in your wallet, right?”

“They don’t care that I have an appointment. They’re just not taking it. I spent five minutes trying to explain and the answer’s just no. ”

So he paced around trying to see if he could get someone in Kadiköy to bring him his passport, but it was really early in the morning and no one was up, and alarm waves were running through our little group and in the meantime we were blocking traffic, so finally the Nice Desk Lady looked at me and said,

“Do you have another form of identification?”

“What?” Panic, again, that even though they’d already accepted and filed my passport, they might change their minds or something.

“Do you have another form of identification? For him?”

I did not understand. I thought she was asking me if I had his passport or something, which made absolutely no sense.

“Do you have another id?” prompted his girlfriend.

Now I don’t know why I did this that morning, but I purposely left my residence permit at home, for same the same visa reasons, and after I grabbed my passport from its little hidey hole I went back- I was halfway out of my bedroom but I went back- and got my drivers license. My expired Maryland drivers license.

So I mutely handed that over to the Nice Desk Lady, who cheerfully took it and handed Bossman a swipey i.d. thing.

“What the-” he muttered.

“I think what just happened is they wouldn’t accept your actually technically legal permit, but they accepted my passport even though the visa on that is at least two years out of date, and then they accepted my EXPIRED drivers license, with my picture and everything, from America, for you. I think that’s what just happened.”

“That is incredible.”

“When we get them back at the end of the day, why don’t you just hang onto it, just in case, huh? I worry about you, running around without it.”

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