The Gilded Serpent presents...
Kayla's Travels in Turkey
“The Turkish Flim-Flam Man”
by Kayla

This part of my journal brings us back to where Suzette was helping me move in. We had priced stoves earlier in Kadikoy, but I was losing faith that I'd ever get into my home and certainly didn’t want to lug a stove around!

When the big day arrived, I had no stove. We were far from Kadikoy. The commissioner had told us of a “new and used” place down the street. She’s a habitual bargain hunter and this prospect piqued Suzette’s interest enough that we drove down. We arrived, and the street was lined with used furniture and equipment. We strolled up the street pricing things. At the last place, far in the back, was an older and heavier grill with two burners and a miniature burner in the middle. Judging from the looks of it—foodstuffs still glued on, --no black marks from any recent explosion,--I believed it to be “working”. Not that much can go wrong.

The salesman, noting my hesitation, said I could bring it back for a refund if it didn’t work. So, for a mere 5 million t.l., I got a stove!

Then I turned to the problem of obtaining rugs. There was a beautiful red one with a dense design of circles and flowers that was machine made of wool, which he was selling for 25 Million Lira. Suzette bargained him down to 20 million. Naturally, all this was done in Turkish; so I was merely picking up the operative terms as he was wrapping up the rug… He stopped and stood up with a funny look on his face. Suzette was droning on, something about Kadikoy, and motioning to the stove. It turned out that she wanted everything for twenty! The poor guy looked sick and torn. It wasn’t that he wouldn’t do it, but he just felt really bad… I “caught on” and started laughing, handing him a twenty (Remember--I had already paid for the stove). I clapped Suzette on the back and said, “Your mother, (who was a notorious bargainer) would be proud!” She began laughing too—giggling, "Really, sometimes I can't stop.”

He became much more relaxed and resumed rolling the carpet. Still, thinking of my “plaza”, and when I would get my awning, I glanced at another rug that was much bigger indeed! I think he said that it was 10 meters. I touched the fringe and found that it was silk! I asked about it. He said there was a tear at the edge, but that it was made of Chinese silk.

Suzette said that “Chinese silk” means silk with something else. They laid it out--a moss green with huge peonies bursting out in different colors, very light, with a silver-gray border. I took a piece of the torn part and put a lighter to it. It burned cleanly, and smelled of wool. The sheen of the rug was remarkable. I had never seen the likes of it in a carpet so large. I thought that perhaps the cross part was silk, and that the tufted part was wool. Who knows? However, it was incredibly soft. The price, was 100 million. We both choked up a little, but after 5 minutes he reduced it, to 75 t.l.. I asked if I could pay thirty now and forty five in a few weeks. He agreed, and let me take it along with my other purchases. He was really very trusting. Although, Suzette said, "You know, they get these things for free most of the time." I said, "Everything costs something, but he was pretty cool about it." and she agreed.

Well, it took another week for Yashil and I to get together to hook up the stove. When he did, it did not work. Both he and Caida looked sorry, but I looked up the word for “gamble”—“Kumar” and said "Besh million"...(5 t.l) “Whatta ya expect? I asked. No problem, I’ll just go to Kadikoy and get a new one for 15 millon lira.”

So, after purchasing my new stove, then picking up my new yorgan, (hand made wool comforter) I took a taxi home. It happened that the driver spoke some English. He said that the place where I had purchased the stove was close. So I took the old stove, put it in a bag, and off I went, using the driver as a conveyance of both body and thoughts (as an interpreter).

Well, we, found the address from the card that the man had given Suzette and I. It was not the place where we had bought the items! The man whose card it was said that he had never seen the stove and did not know what I was talking about. I tried a different approach, saying I had also bought two rugs and still owed the man 40 million. Still, he claimed that he had no idea, saying, "Anyone, can get my card...."

I dropped off the stove with storeowner who was shaking his head. As we were taking off I espied the place where we had purchased all. In a fit of honesty, I got the driver to get out and repeat the drill. Same response, --never saw the stove, --didn't know about the rugs. The driver, began yelling at the dealer. I was saying, "Forget it. Get in the car. Take me home!” I mean, yeah, I may have gotten “burnt” (heh, heh…) on the stove, but I just saved 40 million on my gorgeous rug! I can't pay a man who does not exist, can I?

As we drove off into the sunset, the cabdriver gently chided me, "See? You can never be too careful; there are crooks everywhere!" shaking his head. I mused upon the scenario, about the possibilities, and what a great story it would make.

Now if the, Flim-Flam man should happen to “show up”, wanting his money… Although, all he has is Suzette’s number… Hmm…I'll be happy to return to the “store” with him, just to keep it as straight as I can--with my discount of the non-working stove and a taxi fare. I would be eager to hear what really happened, but somehow, I don't think I'll be seeing him anytime soon…


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