Tuesday, October 6, 2015

My Cell Phone

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I arrived in Izmir on June 25th.  It's October 6th and I still don't have a cell phone plan.  Yup.  It's been three months since I had a working cell phone. If you had told me this would be the case six months ago, my eyes would have been the size of saucers and I probably would have just died.

When we got here, I put my phone on airplane mode and just accepted that it might be a little while before I got a cell phone plan.  As weeks passed, I grew more and more accustomed to only being able to use my cell phone when I was in a wifi zone.  It really wasn't a big deal because the only person I knew in Turkey was usually sitting next to me.  In fact, it was almost refreshing.  Instead of spending my time at a restaurant on my phone, I actually had to look up and enjoy my surroundings. Fast forward three months and I still don't have a plan. I haven't really pushed it since, as I've said before, I really don't have a need for it.  I can use it when I'm in a wifi zone (which is basically any restaurant in Izmir, as well as my apartment) and if I really need to give someone a phone number, I can give them Mike's.

Mike got a cell phone plan a few weeks after we got here because he needed to be able to be contacted by the military.  Someone from base took him one day while I was in Turkish lessons and was able to really help him.  In Turkey, it's a lot more complicated than in the United States (like everything else here).  You have to register your phone within 30 days of coming into the country.  To do this, you have to bring your passport to the tax office and pay a fee.  After doing so, you receive a document that says you've paid, which you bring to a cell phone provider who then give you a Turkish sim card.  That doesn't sound complicated, but just remember, this is Turkey.

We finally decided that it was time to get me a cell phone plan on Monday, since Mike has the afternoons off. When Mike had gone to get his phone plan, he went to a tax office a couple of miles away that is closer to the base. We decided to go to another one, which is closer to our house. When we got there, we asked the police officer at the front desk where to go and he was very helpful and told us to go upstairs to the second floor.  We found a line on the second floor and joined in, even though we weren't sure what the line was for.  When we made to the front of the line, the woman behind the desk was not as friendly.  Mike explained what we were here for, but she said that since I didn't have a residence permit (a whole other story), I would just have to go to the cell phone provider and pay the fee to register my phone there.  That made no sense since you have to register the phones with the government, but we obliged and off to Avea (Mike's cell phone provider) we went!

When we got there, they told us that we couldn't register phones.  Of course not. Neither of us were surprised, but I could feel Mike's frustration level really rising. The man at Avea said that the Turkcell store around the corner could do it.  At this point, Mike was so frustrated that he didn't even care that it was a different provider than his.  We both just wanted this whole process to be over.

Once we got to Turkcell, we spoke to a man who quickly told us that we had to go to the bank to pay the fee and then bring the receipt back.  I just sighed and followed a very frustrated Mike to the bank around the corner. In banks in Turkey, you walk in and get a ticket with a number on it. When your number is called, you go to the desk with your number (there are usually five or six desks that are open) and complete your business.   We grabbed our number and waited.  and waited.  and waited. After 45 minutes, our number was finally called.  Hooray!!!

Don't get too excited.  We went to the desk and Mike explained what we we needed to do.  We were quickly told that bank couldn't do this type of transaction.  Of course not. That would be too simple and convenient. Instead, we would have to go to another bank which was a block over.  I honestly thought Mike was going to explode.

So, around the block we walked. Luckily, this bank was much smaller and our number was called almost immediately. When we went to the desk, Mike again explained what we were there for.  We handed him my passport so that he could see that I had been out of the country within the last 30 days.  He pulled up the form online, but we could see that something was wrong.   He told us that we would have to go to the tax office to register the phone.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?!?!?!?!?

When we asked why, he said that the computer was asking for my Turkish citizenship number which I obviously don't have (proud to be an American!).  Since he couldn't input this number, he couldn't proceed to the next part. He was very nice about it and realized that we were pretty flustered.  He explained (and I quote)...

"Not many people know how to do [register phones] and if they don't know how to, they just send you somewhere else."

We left the bank completely deflated and so frustrated with the entire process. I still don't have a cell phone plan and I think that we're going back later this week, but who knows.  This whole process has been the epitome of bureaucracy.

I've been working on this puzzle for almost a month.  It's been so hard.  Not only does the picture make it a difficult puzzle, it's not very well made.  A lot of the pieces fit with more than one other piece and since there are parts of the puzzle (like the sky) that all look the same, I've ended up putting the wrong pieces together.  I put the entire puzzle together and discovered that there was one piece missing and two pieces that don't fit in the remaining spots.

This puzzle is kind of like Turkey. For the most part, all of the pieces fit together, but it takes a lot of extra work.  I had to redo entire sections of the puzzle multiple times to make sure it was right.  Not only that, but there are pieces that don't actually fit, which means somewhere in the completed part of the puzzle, a wrong piece is stuck in there. There are so many things in Turkey that we've done and had to redo, as well as things (like this cell phone) that haven't worked out, despite our efforts.

I'm sure that, if I try, I can figure out where the mistake in the puzzle pieces is, just like how, if we try, we can eventually get my cell phone plan.  It's just a matter of how much patience we have....

"I think I'd rather watch the eagles lose to the skins repeatedly rather than deal with this" -Mike trying to set up my cell phone