We were sitting in the back of a van that was taking us to our hotel in Istanbul. I was about to begin a post on my phone about my first impressions of Turkey. Then the driver’s phone rang and he turned around and gave his phone to Anson telling him to talk. I listened and watched as Anson said very little but he looked confused and then started digging in his pockets. Once he hung up we figured out what was going on.
Before we left the airport we took €50 out of a machine because our ride (which we pre-booked online) was going to cost €30. Anson put the bill in his pocket and we sat down and waited for our ride. Our ride arrived so we got up to leave. As we neared the door a guy came running after us saying, “Sir! I think you dropped this!” He was holding a €50 bill. Anson thanked him and we left.
The phone call was telling Anson that it wasn’t his money and we had taken someone else’s. Hmm. Had we? We had no other €50 bill anywhere so it was definitely ours. How did that guy know who to call to get ahold of us? What on earth was actually going on?!
We pulled up to our hotel and needed to give the driver €20 (we would pay the remainder after our trip back to the airport) but the driver said he didn’t have any change. We argued with him for a couple minutes and then he pulled out his phone to call the guy from the airport back. Anson handed me the money & told me to go get change inside the hotel. The front desk didn’t have euros (they generally use the Turkish Lira here) so I brought the €50 back outside and heard Anson on the phone. He was telling the guy that he was lying and that he was happy to go to the police. After repeating that he was more than happy to go right to the police, the guy hung up on Anson. The driver seemed to suddenly realize that we were, in fact, telling the truth and quickly assured us that it was ok as he miraculously produced change for us!
Anson later told me that the guy on the phone tried to convince him that he had checked the cameras at the airport and that it wasn’t our money. Anson is smarter than that and stood his ground! +1 for Anson. 0 for airport thieves!
I had taken my phone out that afternoon with the intention of writing my first impressions of Istanbul as wonderful, beautiful and full of kind people. Then the phone rang!
(There is so much more to tell about Istanbul than this! We brushed it off and moved on easily! Advice to all–try not to be bullied when you know you did nothing wrong! Obviously wisdom is needed in other countries but sometimes it okay to not back down!)