(written November 2003)

A while back we were expecting a visitor to come and stay with us. As we did not have a place for them to rest their weary head after their travels, we went out in search of a hide-a-bed.

Upon entering the appropriate shop we began looking at the wares on offer. There were many singles, but, I felt that too limiting and was looking for something that would make out to a double bed. Downstairs we went to a room filled wall-to-wall with hide-a-beds. Of course you want to see not just the sofa bit, but the opened-up bit as well – and that requires space; and all in a space with no spare space.

No problem, a couple of people are called, the owner comes to supervise and sofas are shifted and moved to make room. Glance at one, and immediately a chain of events is initiated so that one too, is freed from the bondage of the tight columns of sofas lined up in the room and is made ready in the event that we might want to see it opened up as well.

You experience mixed emotions as, you know that at that first glance you have rejected the sofa, but still it is freed, the workers labouring in the hope of a sale and ‘in the event’ that we may wish to see this sofa… and on the other hand you have great power, glance at a sofa and immediately people spring into action, shifting, lifting, lugging and otherwise doing all that which is neccessary that the sofa may be set free into a space where we may see if in all its glory, closed and open – and all without saying a word.

After examining the wares, the dickering on price begins and we come to an agreement. I’m not good at bartering, but it was a price that I felt was appropriate to the goods and which I was willing to pay.

Upstairs we go and sit down with the owner.

“I don’t have the money with me,” I say.

“No problem,” he replies. “When you have it, come by – it’s not important. Give me your address and I can have the hide-a-bed delivered immediately.”

And then tea was ordered. We drank, we chatted, we finished. Then we rose, hadn’t paid a penny, made no down payment , hadn’t signed a paper.  We left and the hide-a-bed was duly delivered half an hour later.

Oh, remembering the scriptural admonition to “owe no man anything” I went two days later and paid the bill. He was surprised and said there was no hurry. Ah, doing business in Turkey is not like I have experienced in the West.

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