(first written May 2016)

I’ve known about it for over two months…. but that didn’t make it any easier and if anything, it made it more difficult.

There is a system, a good, proper and beneficial system in Turkey. It is modelled on the German system, which, in itself is the epitome of efficiency and thoroughness. This is a proper, pukkah vehicle inspection at established government inspection stations dotted around the country and is required bi-annually for private vehicles and annually for commercial vehicles.

Now this is a good thing. It should mean that the majority of vehicles on the road, both private and commercial are sound, fit and safe.

And so for normal passenger vehicles, like the one I am using, once every two years you make an appointment, take your vehicle to your nearest inspection station, pay the fee and your vehicle is inspected. If it passes, you carry on for another two years. If it fails, well it depends on what kind of failure.

There are two kinds of failure, roughly and poorly translated as light and heavy. Light failure means you really ought to get this fixed – but, practically, you have passed the inspection, you still receive your all important sticker and pass certificate. Heavy failure is a true failure – make it right or stop using the vehicle. You have one go, within a month and at no additional inspection charge, to make it right and be re-inspected. If it fails again, you will need to pay the full inspection fee again to get it re-inspected. And no, you can not skip it for another time.

Now there is nothing in and of this process that should be stressful or cause any undue discomfort.

Nevertheless, I have hosted stress and have had my share of discomfort because of this pending vehicle inspection.

It all began in March when I borrowed the car and was informed at that time that the inspection would be due while the car was in my charge… I would have to see to it being done. Now this is an extremely small price to pay for the privilege of having the use of this car. Of course, I gratefully agreed.

But, in the privacy of my mind I concede that although it is a “small” price to pay, it is not equivalent to no price. While at the same time I must confess that for the vast majority of vehicle owners in Turkey who all have to submit their vehicles to inspection, all, I say with the sole exception of me, will find this process normal and in no wise note-worthy, absolutely no hardship and could never be described as any kind of “price”.

To be frank and honest, this is not my first time in doing a vehicle inspection, but it is something that I dread. Years ago when we had our own vehicle – I sold it in part because it had lost its dependability factor (when will it fail next) – it was a disproportionate expense for the benefit derived – an expense that accrued whether I used it or not, and the bi-annual vehicle inspection.

Yes, the inspection was a significant part of the reason for my selling the car.

So, for two plus months, in the back of my mind, there has been the knowledge, the presence, of the reality of taking the vehicle to the inspection.

That “presence” never leaving, always present, quietly speaking words of dread to me.

Now as one who has trusted Almighty God for eternal salvation, as one who trusts in His daily care and sovereignty, and one who has been given great promises in the Word of God, there is no reason whatsoever that I should be rattled, disturbed, bothered or stressed by such a simple, ordinary, plain and mundane task, as a simple as a vehicle inspection.

And there you go, in spite of all that, bothered I am, rattled I am, disturbed I am and, yes, stressed I am. There is no empirical reason for it – most people will not even notice the process for the inspection. But for me, it is stressful – whether the cause of that stress is valid or not.

So, when faced with a situation such as this what should my response be?

Well, I seriously considered engaging a ‘takipci’ (pronounced tak-ip-dji in Turkish) – that is a chap who, for a fee, basically does the task for you.

I found this very tempting – but then he wants money for the task…  an additional expense for a task that most just do themselves. Besides, in outsourcing the task I am avoiding my problem, deferring my problem, casting it on another and, hence, I have not dealt with it, I have not changed, I have not grown, I have not over-come this, this simple task which for me is a challenge.

If I engaged a takipci, I may not have to face the discomfort and stress, but then, I also have no opportunity to grow my way through this – my fundamental problem remains. I will not change. I will not overcome this trifling problem that has a disproportionate effect on me. It would be, figuratively, running away from my problem.

So, practically what to do?

First, my good wife went on line and made an appointment for the actual vehicle inspection. In this way, with an appointment, it should be, it ought to be, reasonably straight forward on the morning of the inspection. She even made it for the first appointment of the day – before the queues mount up, before the masses descend, before chaos begins its tumultuous reign…

Once that was done, I made an appointment at the Dacia service department for a thorough check – let there be no reason for a failure of any description, whether light or heavy.

Therefore, two days before the dreaded inspection – see how I can reinforce my problem in the words and attitudes I express “dreaded” – I took the car for its service.

On the way to the Dacia service I passed the forbidding Vehicle Inspection station… it was about 7 minutes to eight in the morning, before they actually open and the parking lot was chock-a-block, vehicles everywhere, some already queued up in front of the seven inspection bays doors. It looked chaotic.

My inner person was not mollified by what I saw but horrified. No reason really, but if you are stressing over it, if you are bothered by it, then seeing the crowds and queues of cars is enough to fire up the stress hormones and put them on active duty.

Anyway, at the Dacia service, all went well and I even had them perform the exhaust inspection required and they affixed the correct documents. Basically the car is in good nick and didn’t need anything serious, but….

But the manufacture date of the tyres, the tyres with reasonably good tread, the date is a full four years and that is at the date, if the inspection people examine the date, that is not allowable. Not to run the risk, I replaced the tyres.

Now this cost me more than I was intending, but this is the INSPECTION and I do NOT want to fail. Side note: sure I purchased new tyres but, fundamentally it is good, nay essential, to have good rubber under the vehicle, that is the main point of contact with the road and the tyres need to be in good nick.

Not for the first time, to the people at the Dacia service department, I re-emphasised that I wanted the car fully checked in order that on the day, there would be no failure. I even warned them that if it failed, I would be straight back to them to have it put right and that I would not be happy.

Hmm…not the best testimony to be presenting…. “…see how being a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ makes me different….” Hmm…

So, with four new tyres under me, I headed off, encouraged that there should be no legitimate reason for the vehicle to fail.

That should bring peace and tranquility shouldn’t it?

Well, it would if I were really “resting” and “trusting” and not “stressing” but, alas, I was stressing, not consciously mind you, but stressing all the same. And so, even after doing all that is in my hand to do, I was still disturbed, still bothered, still unsettled, still stressed.

I doubled checked what needs to be in the vehicle for the inspection: first-aid kit, two reflectors, chock for the tyres, tow rope, fire extinguisher…. all present and ready.

The night before the day of the inspection, I went to bed early-ish as I planned to get up earlier than normal. I slept, but it was not the sleep of angels… I woke a little after midnight, again at 01:00 and got up for the nightly stroll at 03:00 noted the passing of 05:00, the arrival of 06:00 and got up at 06:17 to have my breakfast routine, but in hurry-up mode as once completed, I planned to head straight out.

I had an appointment at the first time slot available, for some reason, I thought it was 08:30….

And so, I leave in reasonably good time, climb in the car and after one last quick inspection it dawns on me, where is my appointment paper – probably don’t need it, but hey, I’m stressed, remember, so against all contingencies, I ask my good wife for the paper.

Once retrieved I learned, there and then, that I had made a mistake, the time of the appointment is not 08:30 as I thought but 08:00. I have more than enough time to get there, especially at that time of the morning, far more than enough time, but if you are stressed, then this can put the stress on steroids…

Mine was not the right response, I know. I mean, honestly, how serious is this anyway? Why stress? There is nothing to stress about. This is illogical. This is without reason. This is stupid.

And yet, I was stressed.

I did not drive like the prophet Jehu (2 Kings 9:20), but I didn’t drive in a sedate, “Sunday afternoon drive” frame, I drove in a quick and prompt and well, yes, aggressive manner.

I went across the middle mountain road, moving along sharply, down the hill, passed where the ancient theatre would have sat, onto the main road and prompt-ish up the road and out to the Vehicle Inspection Station.

I arrived in good time.

Mind you, as I anticipated, it was teeming with people, some milling around, a clump of people by the security hut and another clump by the administrative office and cars, vans, truck, lorries and buses on the apron of the station itself. The limited parking facilities are already filled to and bordering on surpassing its capacity.

I swung the car past people parked out side the gate, powered through the gateway.

I have an appointment.

I proceeded past the security hut and down towards the bays… the bonafide parking spaces were all occupied, so I pulled in front of a bay and parked – I have an appointment for the first time slot after all.

A village type chap approached my car, clothing fit for a village gentleman, complete with a flat cap and trim moustache. Don’t park here, park elsewhere, go to the security hut and check in there.

Okay, helpful. I learned later that he is a Takipci – one of those chaps who knows the system and what needs to be done.

So I back up and there, it wasn’t there when I drove in, is a legitimate parking spot on the side – my fear was if there was no space I would then have to park outside of the apron area, outside the gate, off to the side of the site and then when my turn comes I would be scrambling to collect the car and get it to the bay door….. Thankfully, on the apron I was able to park up and then I make my way over to the security hut by the gate.

Nothing is open yet. There are people everywhere. There are vehicles everywhere. But the station is not yet open for business. I have an appointment. Others, too, have appointments. However it seems that many, many, I would go as far as to suggest the vast majority, do not have appointments.

So I join the loitering cluster of humanity by the security hut. At about twenty minutes to eight, a security man, after telling people to get their cars out of where it is forbidden to be, enters the hut.

Now the Turkish queue forms, more a cluster and yet with its own etiquette and rules – I move into this mass, after all, I have an appointment.

The security man is issuing numbers and people are filing off. I notice the throng of people by the administrative office has swarmed inside. My turn comes. I say I have an appointment. He asks for my car registration number and tells me to return to the security hut at eight o’clock.

Okay.

No, I was not understanding. I drift back over to the administration office to find it is teeming with men – vehicle inspections are man’s work. There are six different people working and there are queues in front of all of them and many more people waiting on the periphery.

I beat a hasty retreat. This is as chaotic and convoluted as I remembered.

I wandered back to the security hut and as the queue was light, I re-entered the queue and when my turn came round I reiterated what I understood, that is to say, I was to return at eight o’clock and then I would go to the administration office.

“Yes” said he, be here “at eight”.

Okay, as it was ten minutes to eight, and as I needed to be at the hut at eight, I decided not to wander anywhere but to patiently wait there under the early morning sun until the magic hour.

At a few minutes to eight he began issuing numbers to those others whom he had said, “come back at eight”, and he gave me mine.

Then as I understood the instructions, I went off to the administration office.

It still was a morass of people, queuing, waiting, loitering, and well, just there, filling the space.

Now do I queue? If so, where? I stand on the right side of the room, and after a while decide that that wasn’t the right place to stand.

Why? No reason, just made that value judgement. I moved closer to the middle of the six queues. There I notice that they have put stainless steel structures between the queues to render it more British in appearance rather than a Turkish queue – only one can get to the head of a queue at a time – what a novel approach.

In amongst all the waiting men I saw the village gentlemen, the Takipci, and he, being a helpful individual, looks at my ticket number and says “there is one number ahead of you” and when I puzzled where I should queue, he said “they will call your number”.

So nice to know the system. I hope my ears are up to the task.

The employee on the left hand side calls out 802, and when there is no response, he calls 803 – uh, that’s me. The poor chap who was loitering between me and my destination – almost got knocked out of the way. I’m a bit stressed, whether I want to be or not.

At the desk I pass over the car documents. He asks for ID, so after I query I give him my passport. I know how much this is going to cost, so I get the money counted and on the counter. He is typing away and examining the computer – the final check to make sure there are no outstanding fines, charges or infractions registered against the vehicle (which would invalidate the inspection until all fines and fees are duly paid) and then he reaches up and takes the money.

Eureka, that act means I have passed the first hurdle, all the paper work has been accepted. I guess at this time I should declare that, yes, once, I failed at this most basic of steps.

He hands me a receipt and some paperwork and tells me to go outside and wait. He assures me that as I have an appointment, it won’t be long. Oh, and they will call me by name.

Good. Well, I think it is good.

Outside, again under the unrelenting Antakayan sun, I loiter. The tannoy is making a string on announcements. Many are licence numbers, not names.

Now this is not too bad as most of the vehicles have vehicle registrations beginning with 31, however, the car I am using has a registration beginning with 34 – I should be able to recognise that.

But he said that they would call me by name……. But which name? The name of the owner of the car? By my foreign, passport name? And if so, by what rules of pronunciation, this I did not know.

Additionally, I hear, distinctly “kanal a” or in English I understand them to say bay “a” – except all the bays are numbered one through seven and not lettered. “How is it that they said “a””, I wonder.

Then, as I am treated to more announcements via the tannoy, I hear them say the bay number and the final word, in Turkish, is “kanala” that by translation means “to the bay”, ah, I see, the letter “a” that I heard was not referring to the letter “a” but to the standard and rather ubiquitous Turkish suffix “a” meaning “to” so meaning “to the bay” – basic Turkish…duh)

Standing there on the large apron, I see a steady stream of cars going in the various bays. Hm… I have an appointment for the first available time slot, and here I am standing, waiting, while crowds and crowds of vehicles are going in ahead of me…. What is the system here?

I chat with a waiting chap.

I go and get the things that are required to be in the vehicle and I put them on the passenger seat, open and on display. Once I had a light failure because they didn’t see that I had everything. Not this time, thought I.

Then I notice, as various cars are accepted into the bay, that the inspector opens the boot and has a good look around.

Consequently, I then move everything from the front, passenger seat, back to the boot, but on display if and when the boot is opened.

As I stand there waiting, listening to the tannoy I notice that my car has been blocked in. Okay.

Then I discern in the sounds coming out of the tannoy, Rij Kırkvud…… uh that would be me.

I hasten back to the car, pile in, start it up and look behind me. The driver who has blocked me in is endeavouring to move out of my way. He probably can sense my tension and stress and fears for the safety of his automobile….

As I reverse out, and then notice that I’m double blocked in, but by manoevering, I extract the car and move over to bay 3.

The inspector comes out and walks up to the bonnet at which point I understand and open the bonnet latch. Then he comes to the door with the plastic protector for the seat – this is as far as I go.

He then asks what’s in the boot. I’m not sure what he means, but I begin enumerating the various things that are required to be found in the vehicle. Right or wrong, he didn’t ask any more and told me to go out and around the building to the back side where the car will come out. He will shepherd the vehicle through the inspection process.

So around the building I go and waiting at the far end of the building whilst the car undergoes the various stations of inspection in the long inspection bay.

I don’t watch. I’m stressed. Shouldn’t be, but, honestly, I am. So I stand and look anywhere but where the car is.

The car comes down to my end of the bay, they perform the check of the alignment of the headlamps, drive it out and tell me to park up and come back.

No indication as to how it has gone. I mean, it should pass with no problem … it should, but until it does….

What is being examined here? the vehicle or me? I feel like I am being examined. I am stressed – but there is nothing for me to do.

I park up and return… but to where do I return – I don’t know. There is no one at my bay. So I join the cluster of men by the end of bay one. There are some computers over on the side… that looks like a likely place for the paperwork to be finalised – whether you pass or failure, the paperwork has to be finalised. It is there that the paperwork will be done, methinks.

I stand. I wait. It is all over now – or is it – just waiting for the word.

Someone is called, the inspector has paperwork in his hands. Yes, I am waiting in the right area.

Then the inspector walks towards me with a fist full of paper work, and I can see on top of it all, the sticker that is to be affixed to the registration plate – in other words, it appears we have passed…. Not just the car, we, it and I have passed. Relief. Blesséd relief.

Once I have the longed for paperwork I return, deeply liberated, not triumphant, just, finally, stress-free. I affix the coveted sticker on the front registration plate. Wasn’t sure where to put it, so, after cleaning the plate, I put it over top of the old one.

Then I look at the report…. I have five points of light failure – I can live with that. But I really did not want to have any point of failure.

Ultimately, the purpose of this whole episode is not the vehicle inspection, but my identifying and properly dealing with stress – regardless if it is justified stress or unjustified stress.

In this I failed. This whole multi-month vehicle inspection saga has not been my finest hour. But I am more aware of the basic equation now and, by God’s grace, the next time, for a next time there most certainly will be, I will do better in this situation. With His grace I will confess, live, demonstrate and experience the peace of God which passes all understanding – for this is mine in Christ regardless to the cause of the stress, regardless as to whether it is reasonable or unreasonable…the promise is peace in all situations.

This story is not over, just this chapter. Next time, by the grace of God, I am trusting for a much better experience.

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