Travelin’ Man – Turkish For A Day

Today’s Music: They Might Be Giants – Istanbul (Not Constantinople)
Note on Today’s Music: This is the third appearance of They Might Be Giants as Today’s Music. More than anyone else!

Note on today’s post: As with all my alcohol related posts, this is only as true as I remember it.


Not the Turkey I went to.
More like the turkey I acted like.

Among the many things I’ve been lucky to do, I occasionally did pick-up work as a courier: check cargo in at the airport, fly with it to the destination, and deliver to the waiting party on the far side.
I did a few of these runs. This was the one to Turkey.

It started with a phone call:
Shipper: “Hey Guap, we need an airplane part dropped in Turkey. Are you free tomorrow?”
At the time, I was taking computer classes, with no gainful employment.
EG: “What time is the flight?

So I meet the shipper at the airport. I’ve got a decent size duffel bag. He hands me a box (an altimeter for a private jet), a phone number, and an envelope of money – my pay for the job.
I get on the plane for a ride to Turkey.

This was before 9/11, so the security was not soul sucking. Unfortunately, this was after the days of no smoking on international flights. But I was travelling alone, so I wouldn’t have to worry about breaking any friendships as my nicotine fits got worse and worse.

So umpteen hours later, I arrive in Turkey. I buy a phone card.
But can’t figure out how to use the phone.
The phone is next to an airport coffee shop that has comment cards on each table, in English and Turkish.
Friends, when you are around the world, as long as you can find a bilingual comment card, you too can translate enough to communicate with the nice girl at the coffee shop and learn how to use a phone!

So I get the pilot I’m supposed to deliver the altimeter to on the phone. He comes to meet me in the airport “Oh great, just what we needed! Get a room at this hotel, we’ll meet you in the bar later and go out on the town.”
One hour in Turkey and I know people. Woohoo!

So I go get settled at the hotel, take a quick nap and a shower, and head down to the hotel bar, Ricks American Sports Bar.

The pilot isn’t there yet, so I order a beer. And drink it. He still isn’t there, so I order another.
I’m half way through my third when he comes down and orders one.
I finish mine. He’s only halfway done with his. I order another.
(You see where this is going, right?)

The copilot comes down and orders a beer. “Great!” says the pilot. “We’ll finish these and head out!”

The mighty Bosphorous. No, I didn't see it.

The mighty Bosphorous.
No, I didn’t see it.

The copilot works on his beer. The pilot finishes his and orders another. Then me. Then the copilot.
It’s like doing rounds of Row Row Your Boat.

The pilot is telling stories about working for the Prince of the oil republic they fly for. The copilot is telling the pilot he’s drinking too much to fly tomorrow.
I’m laughing my head off because I’m on the other side of the world for one night.

Row Row Row Your Boat…

We’re finally lining up our intake. Within a beer or two, we should all be synced, and we’ll head out.

In walks the American businessman on his way home from Russia!
“English speakers! Great!” He joins us, and orders a beer.
And around we go again…

Relax. It's only worth a bag of pretzels.

Relax. It’s only worth a bag of pretzels.

Around 2 am (my flight is at 9), I stumble back to my room. I wake up the next day at 835, with jet lag and a case of beer stomping on my head.
And with an energetic “CRAP!!!”, I grab my stuff and run to the lobby. Where I find American Businessman has held the shuttle for me.

We get to the airport (basically a coffee shop with a reaaaallllly long road behind it) where we drink jet fuel sold as coffee.
And then wide awake, get on a plane for a 14 hour haul to Miami. (Don’t ask.)

After trying to explain to the customs guy why I was in Turkey for one night, I found a palatable cup of coffee, and sat in the parking lot of Miami International and chain smoked for three hours until my connecting flight to NYC.

And I even made it to class on time.

So on those rare occasions when Turkey comes up, with more pride than brains, I chime in, “Turkey? Been there.”

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107 responses to “Travelin’ Man – Turkish For A Day

  1. What a life you’ve led!! I mean, seriously, what a great life!!

  2. What a fine ambassador you were for our country! Well, at least you didn’t dance naked on the bar. ;)

  3. Hilarious. I taught English to a group of teenage Turkish exchange students one summer. Fun times. Wish there was beer in that class.

    • This is one of just many reasons I never became a teacher, Mel.
      I think I’d be a good role model, just not the kind the parents want for their kids…

  4. Classic Guapo. I watched a show last night about Istanbul Scam City, great show. Guy goes to different cities and tries to get scammed on camera. Check it out. A 14 hour flight with a kick ass hangover. That would be fun.

  5. Well I’ll be damned .. Turkey. You never cease to amaze and surprise me Guap..and how did you get off the no fly list? Getting my then 3 yo ff was next to impossible….

    • Oh, it was easy, LizzieC. I travel under the name of clean citizen Eustace Esterhause.
      It takes them so long to spell, they don’t have time for the security check! ;)

  6. That’s way cool! I’d love to see Turkey. Istanbul (not, in fact, Constantinople–why did Constantinople get the works? That’s nobody’s business but….well, you know) is unique in that it sits on two continents.

    A last minute flight to Turkey. That’s pretty James Bond.

    Also, this is your third TMBG reference? I think most people could do at best, two (Birdhouse in Your Soul, maybe).

    • One day, I’d like to see Turkey too Smak!

      The other two TMBG were Birdhouse In Your Soul (for a post about my girl) and Particle Man (surely you know that one!) for a post about the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle.

  7. Nothing better than traveling the world. I could sit and listen to your stories all night.

  8. Excellent story! You were almost in Midnight Express!! I feel so proud saying that, considering it was one of the first “R” movies my mom took the 4 of us to before we reached the collective age of 20. But that’s another story altogether…. I’m so sorry you never got your night out on the Turkish town, but sometimes the price for a good story is steep. How long did it take you to recover from that 48 hr. rendezvousz (I wish I could spell that)???

    • The best hangover cure was telling that story, Laura.
      I went back to school on Monday, and my answer to “what did you do this weekend?” was answered with “Oh, I went to Turkey. You?”
      And then I’d just start laughing to myself, because it really was kind of goofy!

  9. I know a guy who had that job. Back in the day he’d call me from one of his exotic destinations – usually after the ninth round of drinks – to tell me where he was (or thought he was). It was always imbalanced in that he’d call from the Champs Elysée to say he was looking at the Eiffel Tower and I’d be at the grocery store trying to decide whether we’d be eating rotini or rigatoni for dinner.

    Thanks for reminding me…it’s a great story.

  10. Whoa! Midnight Express.
    Never too much TMBG. Loved ‘em when I lived in Brooklyn and they were just starting out (so I hear from old people). Love ‘em now.
    You rock. thought I led an interesting life. You win babe!
    Triangle man beats Person man

  11. That sounds like the best job ever

  12. You’re a flippin’ jet setter, Guap! Seriously cool. Until you land in jail, that is. Until then, seriously cool.

  13. You should REALLY go there! Swim in the Bosporus! You can, you know. But not drunk..

  14. HA! Nice! That must’ve been a pretty cool job! And so awesome that you went to Turkey – even if it was only a night!

  15. Great story as always – Istanbul is a hoot!

  16. Nice story. Something similar happened to me in Istanbul last year, when I say similar I mean the drinking and almost missing the flight.

  17. Loved this! More tales of your jet setting please. I would love to have had that job, I wondered if they still use them as much these days.

  18. I’m SOOOOOOO glad that I wasn’t on your flight back….YOU…ARE…CRAZY…….( And I absolutely have loved this song for a long time!!)

  19. Great story, especially with the background music. Although, your “Been there” comment at the end got me biggest laugh!

  20. Oh my gosh, I’m still laughing about Carrie’s comment about the naked bar dancing! (that’s going down in blog-history as the most re-told post)…you have some cool stories, Guapo! I love reading about them! It did have a very James Bond feel to it…I kept waiting for the duffle bag contents to be revealed as not containing an airport part, but a……(?) Whew! Everything worked out!

  21. Yeah, I was expecting the ending to be something like “and when my parachute didn’t open over the ocean, I…” But so glad you made it to your class on time. That’s a relief!!

  22. Haha Guap! Now that’s my kind of traveling!! :D I hate being away from home very long! You always have more fun on the spur of the moment!

  23. Now I need to do some posts about my weird world travels. Amsterdam should keep me busy for a month. I rescued a hooker form her abusive pimp, and he reached into his coat and told me he had a gun… no, I better save this for a real post.
    Good story. I never went anywhere for that short of a time. That is just plain crazy.

  24. Hey, at least you had the excuse of being in a foreign country, if you missed your flight. A co-worker and I were in mid-plaster, waiting for our two fellow travelers to show up, when they came running BACK from the gate, yelling that the plane was leaving! We almost got marooned in scenic Detroit! (Up side – the co-worker was female, single, and VERY cute. Downside? She was my boss – YIKES! :D )
    But the most important question – did you get the T-shirt to prove it? ;)

    • Had that happen in Dallas, John. We went to a bar outside the airport so we could smoke while we drank, and ended up in a speeding cab followed by a mad dash through the terminals to get back to our plane.
      Which it turned out wasn’t as ready as they said.

  25. I love this story! I’m impressed you got paid to do this, I would have done it for free. But maybe I shouldn’t say that too loudly…
    More Guapo adventure stories!!

  26. Guapo,
    I’m new to your blog but your reputation is way the fuck ahead of you.
    Great story, look forward to more…

  27. This is so random. Your life kinda rocks, Guap.

  28. free penny press

    All I can say is Thank goodness this did not end up like “Midnight Express” (ever seen it?)
    You are so damn snazzy EG :-)

  29. Dude, you’ve got to ring up the Coen Brothers on this one. It’ll bank you plenty ‘o smokes. Well, thanks to this post, I learned you are NOT City Council. I was kinda curious after your Alec Baldwin thing comment.

    • But now that you mention it, I would LOVE to go drinking in turkey with Alec Baldwin, Cayman.
      I could get in soooo much more trouble, and still seem tame in comparison….

      • You’re serious about Alec huh? Well, as long as you’re happy….
        Hell, I would settle for going to Applebees with Alec. I’ve a feeling he would make the “Neighborhood” a hell of a lot more fun.

  30. so…they’re calling it “altimeter” now, huh? In my day, we called a drug a drug. Courier, huh? yeah, right. LOL

  31. Guap – Got your note, great idea. I’m in. *insert evil chuckle here*

  32. Hahaha, awesome story :D. Thanks for sharing man!

  33. I always thought the courier gig would be a fun way to see some of the world or the bars in some other part of the world! :-)

  34. Ah boy… “One more beer…” I’ve said that a few times. Good times. “One more venti non-fat vanilla latte” just doesn’t have the same ring to it. At least you made it to Turkish soil. I took one of those whirlwind European tours when I was in college- part of it was a cruise from Italy to Greece to Turkey back to Italy. Well, I got drunk off some really funky green drink in the cruise ship lounge with the DJ after we left Greece and I slept all the way through the stop to Turkey. So I’m not even sure if I can say I went to Turkey or not. But I do anyway.

    I haven’t thought about They Might Be Giants in a long time- thanks for reminding me! Favorite album / song I should check out?

    • It’s one of those things I can look back on and laugh about, RoS, but (except for a few rare occasions) it’s not something I’d do again.

      Actually, my favorite TMBG song is Ana Ng. (youtube is giving me trouble right now…)
      The hook in that song always gets me energized.

  35. You are one wild dude, Guapo!! Great story.

  36. There is nothing like a nice bit of Turkey
    El Guapo and wow what a wicked character
    you really are, put it this way my Skeletons
    are getting pretty damn jealous of ALL your
    antics and the Zombies have already left the
    building, sulking of course :(


    What is it like being a rapscallian rebel and
    wannabeeee freakin’ jailbird? :) :) :roll: lmao

    You are the Man El Guapo :)
    * Sneaking Out Unseen *


  37. I think the turky does not want to be eaten on Christmas! XD

  38. Now this is a story that Jibes with the Guapo I know and love. The same guy that drove to Philly for a steak sandwich. If this Turkey story doesn’t cement your greatness nothing will.

  39. Your blog…The story of MY life…Hehehehe…

Ahem *best Ricky Ricardo voice* Babble-OOOoooo!!!

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