Doctors and health officials are all warning that Turkey has not yet come out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Put aside fears of a second and bigger wave in the fall months, it is not yet possible to claim that the Turkish people have learned the need to abide by the rule of the game: Hygiene, social distance and masks.
Hygiene has always been a problem, but probably has never been such an important lifesaver. Proper handwashing has been a constant demand of the health officials and doctors who have been sacrificing their lives for public health. Handwashing might be the easiest weapon we have in the fight with the pandemic. Leaving three or four armlength distance with others, must not be that difficult.
Wearing a mask is not a requirement for personal health. More so having a mask covering the nose and mouth is indeed a step to protect people you are in contact with. The matter is not to avoid being infected with the virus, we should all learn that we might be infecting others without knowing and intending so.
My telephone operator notified me that through its digital operator I must resubmit certain documents for the renewal of my telephone contract. Difficult job. Each time I attempt to undertake such endeavors through automated answering systems, I end up screaming in anger. I think I am rather good in following technological advances, but such systems that help companies cut from personal expenses take away at the same time the humane touch and often the sense of control, as has been my case.
After attempting to resubmit a photograph of my ID and press card several times and failed, I decided to visit the nearest “customer center”, that is a just a shop serving as agent of the operating company. There were five people inside, packed like sardines, at each other’s neck. I stood just out of the shop. As one after the other people completed their works and left, people started to queue behind me and pressure me to move on.
The rule was simple. There were yellow stripes showing where each customer should wait for his turn. Not only all those stripes were full, there were people standing in between the stripes as well. It was difficult but managed to repel the pressure. As the last yellow stripe emptied, I moved in, and someone in the queue moved as well, leaving less than 20 centimeters between us. “Back off… Back off” I said, trying to be polite and warned, “You must keep the distance, my friend.”
It took another 10 minutes to advance to the first yellow stripe and a white warning ribbon supposedly placed to maintain a distance between the personnel behind the counter and the customers.
“I received a call from the operator that I must upload photos of my cards to get my service contract extended. I was told that either I should do it through the digital operator or you are authorized and can do it for myself,” I said and received an immediate rebuff. “No sir, we no longer handle such requests. You have to do it yourself. Download the digital operator, click the relevant section, go to document upload button, press on it and from your photo library upload the pictures of your cards…” Clever boy. He knows everything and enjoys torturing me. “What if I pay you to do it for myself?” I asked gently and still doing my best to keep a muted smile on my face. “No… No… We no longer do such things. You have to do it yourself. Only if you are applying for the first time, or move to another and higher package, we might do it.”
I looked back, six people were at my neck, two of them out in the sun. “My friend,” I said with a painful smile that hopefully masked the curses I was trying to avoid pour out of my mouth. The boy talking with me did not realize but the girl standing next to her, and apparently was senior, got the message. “Uncle,” she said… I hate that word. When did I age that much to be called “uncle?” I naturally pretended as if she was not talking with me. “Uncle, may I help you” she repeated. How can I say no? She got my phone, in less than two minutes uploaded the photos of the cards and with a smile “Please don’t be angry with my friend, we were instructed to divert all such requests to the digital operator. We were four here, now only two. Our friends here and elsewhere were all fired because shop owners are in a serious pandemic crisis…”
There is no second wave yet. But obviously, we have not yet learned as individuals and as companies neither the need to take measures, not these are times of solidarity and probably with decreased pay or some other measures avoid further crease of unemployment.