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Today the water company called to see if I was dead.

Today the water company called to see if I was dead.  They didn’t call me; they called my apartment building management.  After a year of unpaid bills, my apartment reached the company’s tolerance for giving free water.  Apparently they really don’t want to shut off the water, though, because they still make the last ditch effort to ensure that nobody needs it.

So when I walked into my building this afternoon, the security guard presented me with 6 months of water bills that my landlady had kindly dropped off, after they found my mailbox empty and guessed she probably had them.  She’s a little loopy – I’ve only lived in the apartment for three months!  Since I really value running water, however, I decided to just pay the bills, and then talk to her son, who is easier to deal with, and arrange to take it out of the rent.

Amazingly, 6 months of water for the apartment only added up to about $80.  The real cost was in time and patience wasted in trying to pay the bill.  On Turkish utility bills, a box at the bottom lists all the places where you can pay.

I had a tutor session this afternoon on one of the city’s busy streets, so I decided to start there.  At the first bank, Halkbank (Public Bank), after I took my number and waited 15 minutes for a teller, they told me I could only pay bills in the morning at this branch, before 11 a.m.   That’s nearly impossible for me, since I’m in class until 1 p.m.  I asked about other branches’ policies, but the teller said there was no way for her to know.

At Bank #2, Iş Bank (Business Bank), after repeating the number-taking and waiting process, I learned that that branch never takes bill payments.  I received a similar response at Bank #3, Akbank (possibly Pure Bank, but there are countless political meanings as well).  Luckily this teller was helpful, and said I could always pay my bill at the Post Office!

So while cursing the Turkish banking system and all of its branch fiefdoms, I walked further up the street to PTT, which is Turkey’s postal, telecom (kind of), and money transfer service.  I took another number, waited my turn, handed the cashier the bill, and then paid.  It was so easy!  So from now on, if it’s possible, I’m going to pay all bills at the post office – who knew!

Although this entire process took just over an hour and just about all of my fortitude, I’m glad for it.  Overcoming the simple challenges of daily life, like paying the water bill, while speaking a foreign language in a foreign country, is why I fought not to live in embassy housing, where they pay all of your bills for you.   It’s also a valuable part of the experience as an Olmsted Scholar.

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Patrick Redmon #

    “Overcoming the simple challenges of daily life, like paying the water bill, while speaking a foreign language in a foreign country, is why I fought not to live in embassy housing, where they pay all of your bills for you. It’s also a valuable part of the experience as an Olmsted Scholar.”

    Sarah Thomas, 3 December 2012

    I just wanted to make sure that I cut and pasted the quote should we ever have to refer back to it in the future. Say… about a month from now when you find out that the lady at the post office wasn’t really supposed to take your water bill money – and the water does get turned off – right about the time you have about a quart of shampoo in your hair! (ha ha) I do love to read the “Are you kidding me?” stories from Turkey. 🙂

    December 3, 2012
    • That reminds me of life on the ship, where I was in charge of making the water and sending it out to the ship, at least for 5 hours a day, and then listening to the pilots complain about it being too hot or too cold. And then sure enough, when I most needed a shower, and had a body full of soap and head full of shampoo, the water would stop. We’ll see what happens here – hopefully the six pages of receipts she printed out will keep me in water!

      ________________________________

      December 3, 2012
      • Patrick Redmon #

        Pilots… They were probably spending more time on their hair than you were, Sarah! (ha ha)

        December 5, 2012
  2. Janelle #

    Ha ha! I get frustrated with U.S. companies incompetencies but this gives me a whole new appreciation for how good I really have it! At least they called you b/f they turned it off so you weren’t without water for awhile b/f you got this all settled!

    December 4, 2012

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