Work Friendships: Not the Perfect Blendship

Well, I’ve been back in Turkey for 5 days now. Being reunited with Canim has breathed some life back into me. It’s fantastic and we have some SUPER exciting things coming up in the next week (a post about that will follow). 

I have been back at work for 3 days. It’s a little surreal and it’s definitely taking some time to get myself back into full Workey (work in Turkey) mode. I have been “promoted” to team leader for my department. Awesome right? 

No. Not awesome. I mean, I’m thrilled that my boss believes in me enough to have given me the position, and it will be a great learning experience and of course it will look great on my resume. That said, I am also now managing people who: 

1. Are older than me by at least 10 years (some 20).
2. Have been in this line of work longer than I have been. 
3. Have been working with this specific company longer than I have been. 

I think I was a bit of a dark horse during the application process in June (for reasons listed above). Last year was my first year with the company, but it was my second year in Turkey (Workey). I arrived later than the other foreigners because of work visa drama, but I hit the ground running and held my own for the entire year. I didn’t go through the typical culture shock that was expected of many first-year employees because I had already done that in a far less nurturing environment the year before. 

To make it worse, some colleagues had suggested that we have a department vote to choose the new team leader. I pride myself on being a practical person, and I figure out the way things work rather quickly. My boss is a powerful, driven woman. She has clear vision for our company, and if you are not with her, you’re gonna get left in the dust. If you aren’t picking up what she’s putting down, then it’s best to relocate. Basically: if you can’t work with her, move on, because you aren’t gonna change her or the system. That said, I KNEW that a vote would be a complete waste of time, energy, and petty drama because in the end, Boss would pick whoever she wanted anyway. So why bother? 

Well, they had the vote when I was already back in NY. I didn’t even bother to vote. Somehow, I won. 

Two months later, I’m trying to manage people who bring “resistant” to a new level. In Workey, meetings are abundant. That’s just the way it is. So, we have had two team meetings in the last two days. Each time I communicated exactly what Boss said she wants, I was met with resistance, objections, and a 50-year-old woman who was acting more like a 12-year-old girl whose mom bought her a black iPhone instead of a white one and she hated her for it. 

Twice today I overheard colleagues snickering about work they had submitted to me and whether or not I would deign to approve it (but is it my fault if people don’t proofread and catch their mistakes?). Then, in a weekly wrap-up email I had reminded colleagues that we will be doing something that is as natural and obvious as a teacher giving homework, and behind a closed door, after hearing the email receipt chime, I heard,”OMG look at the list of what she expects! Who does she think she is? Who makes these decisions? She didn’t mention this in the meeting – she has to ask us before she makes these choices.” 

 It’s no coincidence that the most resistant person is one who applied for the position, interrupted my interview for the position, and when I was announced as the new leader, sent me a message that said:

“Congratulations 🙂 I wish you well with your new responsibilities. It’s going to be a lot and you will have a very full, if not overloaded, plate. Congrats again!” 

I cannot quit this position, nor do I plan to or think I should, because I am willing to prove myself and I truly do care about the company and I want to do everything in my power to help it thrive. I believe my boss chose me for many reasons, and one of them is definitely my relationship with colleagues. I have a good rapport with them without actually being their friends. It’s hard in Workey because when you meet other foreigners, you may feel temptation/pressure to become “fast friends” with them simply because you have a language or culture or foreignness in common. But that’s not always the best idea, especially when that person is your co-worker. My philosophy is that it’s best to treat my Workey co-workers as I would my co-workers in America. Be kind, friendly, thoughtful, respectful, socialize/fraternize from time to time, but keep the professional boundaries clearly marked. The distance I maintained last year will help me this year, because it is already clear that I am friendly but I am not their homegirl and I can’t be pushed/pressured/bribed into helping people get away with slacking and lacking. 

Still, it is only day 3 and I’m wiped. I’ve got a long year ahead of me! 

Anti-Bride and Super Fiancé Face a New Challenge

I’ll cut to the chase: Canim and I are looking for a new wedding venue.

In February, Venue 1 “penciled us in” for our January 2015 wedding. I told Canim – twice, once as recently as last week – that it’s a bad sign that they literally used pencil, meaning no ink, to write the most important day of our lives on their calendar.

I understand that trying to book a wedding more than 6 months in advance is unheard of in Turkey. This is not a planning culture. This is an inşallah culture. I am not mocking God’s will, certainly not, but this culture takes the fatalistic, future’s-already-been-decided thing to a whole notha level.

Still, fate and destiny aside, money trumps most things. We expected them to warmly accept our money when we said,”We are going to make a 1,000 TL deposit today to secure our date.”

Nope. We were given the runaround several times, always being told we needed to talk to someone else, who was always conveniently unavailable. Today, we met with Someone Else’s assistant. I disliked her immediately. She was far too smirky and I could tell her tone was condescending when she spoke to Canim. He made little to no effort to translate, and he later revealed he didn’t translate because he knew I’d get angry.

It seems there have been “some changes” in their system. The menu we wanted? Gone. The DJ? No longer part of the package. We have to use their DJ and pay his price. End of message, no haggling. Photographer? Originally not included in the package, we were free to find our own. Now, we HAVE to use theirs and ditch the one we found. End of message, no haggling.

You may have already realized that in almost every situation, Canim is nicer than I am. That hasn’t changed. I grabbed my purse and showed myself out of the office. I put my sunglasses on and waited for him to emerge from the office with Smirky. I heard him explaining I was little upset because of their [COMPLETELY BOGUS] switcheroo. He exchanged pleasantries and we left. I did my best not to flip tables or the bird, for that matter.

I cried for a few minutes, but Super Fiancé assured me that we have nothing to worry about. He has a connection at a new 5-star hotel that will give us the same services for a better price. We will check it out tomorrow.

After that, we went downtown to shop for gold. My in-laws gave Canim an embarrassing sum to go out and buy gold jewelry of my choice for the wedding. I fell in love with the first set I found, but we looked at about a dozen other stores before coming back and buying the first set. We also bought two gold bangles, because apparently it’s of the utmost importance for the groom’s parents to give the bride gold bangles. I say “embarrassing” because they have already done so much for me and they have given me so much (including their first born), it humbles me that they feel the need to give me more. I’m not gonna knock that part of Turkish culture.

While Canim called his mother to confirm that the gold had been purchased, the store owner gave me some sticky ice cream (which I LURVE) with some kadayif, which were both on point. I sat there and realized how ridiculously blessed I am. Sure, I don’t have a venue for my wedding and there are only 7 months to go. But I’ve got a Super Fiancé (or should I say Süper Fiancé) by my side to make sure that even when things go wrong, everything is still alright.

Here’s a sneak peek of the bling. I am trying to keep the whole set as a surprise for the wedding day, whenever and wherever that may actually be. 🙂

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First post!

Merhaba!

Welcome to my humble little blog. I guess this is technically a “wedding blog” because I plan to write about wedding-related things, but it’s likely I will digress a lot.

So, who am I writing this for? Well, I am writing this for friends and family back home who are too far away to participate in the wedding planning experience. Sometimes a Facebook update just doesn’t cut it. I don’t think a blog is any kind of substitute, but at least I can be as detailed as I want to be without making people roll their eyes and think, “Oh, there goes another wedding post!” If you’re reading this right now, it’s because you chose to, and not because I am clogging up your news feed with selfies taken with my fiance and post after post about finding wedding venues, photographers, flowers, and ultimately saying “evet” to the dress of my dreams.

I am also writing this for other women out there who find themselves in a similar situation. They belong to a small community of people in Turkey known as yabancis. That’s actually Turklish (Turkish + English). The correct term is “yabancilar,” and that isn’t even 100% correct because the “i” should be undotted. Anyway, what is a yabanci (yah-bahn-jih)? Well, a yabanci can be one of many things: a foreigner, a stranger, a trespasser, but always an outsider. An even smaller community within that community is the one that I am rapidly becoming a part of: the yabanci gelin (foreign bride) community. Being a yabanci gelin is incredibly exciting, but it can also be daunting, intimidating, and confusing. I do not claim to be an expert. I’m just figuring it out as I go. I’m documenting my adventure (1.5 years after it began) in case maybe one year from now, another brave yabanci finds herself in love with a Turkish man and she wants to figure out what she’s getting herself into (hint: it includes lots of fun, lots of language-barrier mishaps, LOTS of paperwork, but mostly, lots of love and delicious food).

I have done more than my share of Googling in the year and a half that I have lived in Turkey. More recently, I have been Googling recipes. I’ve almost mastered making Turkish pilav. Sometimes, if I’m bored or if I am lacking inspiration, I will Google Turkish wedding ideas/traditions, but I know that is often an exercise in futility. Why? Because (spoiler) no amount of Google searching will help me answer all the questions I’ll have about Turkish culture. That means this blog, the one that you somehow discovered somewhere in a sea of spam and travel blogs, will only answer some of your questions. Or, it will answer none of them and only confuse you more. Get used to it. The only thing I can do is offer you a different perspective and share my personal, often unique experiences in the hopes that maybe you can relate in some way. At the very least, I hope you’ll be amused.

My goal is to keep this blog as anonymous as possible for as long as possible. I will share my own thoughts and experiences, of course, but I will avoid posting photos of myself (or my fiance) and using real names. I won’t write anything here that I would not want my fiance to see. I hope to find a way to inform and entertain readers and to get them to think about life, relationships, and the world in a new way. I also want to help other yabancis navigate their way through a very complex culture.

I haven’t figured out exactly how to use this site, but if you have the ability to comment, please, feel free! All I ask is that you be respectful and use discretion. Like I said, I want this to be anonymous, so my comment section ought to be too. 🙂

Sevgiler & saygilar,
–YB