Friday, September 16, 2011

A Story to Sink Your Teeth Into

I travel--a lot. Because I have worked for many years with Christian ministries, I have been blessed with opportunities to visit Latin America twice, the Russian portion of Asia, various countries in Western Europe, and over 40 trips to lands that were once part of the Soviet Union. So I have a bit of experience on the road. But every once in a while, an unexpected incident will catch me by surprise...

It was my first trip to the country of Turkey. And even though September is relatively late in the year, the streets of Istanbul were scorching hot as a coworker and I walked about the city. When I saw a vendor with a refreshment stand, I was ready to quench my thirst.

"Wait a moment," I told my colleague. "I'm going to try one of those cans of Turkish soda pop."

I understand few words in Turkish, but numerals are universal language. I pointed to the soda pop I wanted and doled the proper number of coins into the palm of the shopkeeper. He nodded with approval and handed me my chilled drink. I pulled up the aluminum tab and was about to turn away when the vendor suddenly lifted a hand to sign that I should wait a moment, as if I were forgetting something. Then, very seriously, he reached behind his counter and withdrew a plastic drinking straw.

"Ah," I said, understanding dawning.

The man motioned for me to hold the can closer, and when I did he courteously inserted the straw and then gestured that I was good to go. I smiled my thanks and waved farewell.

When I rejoined my friend, we set off down the sidewalk and resumed our conversation right where we left off before my quick shopping excursion. I stuck the straw in my mouth to take a sip of Turkish cola.

That's when I felt something I hadn't felt since I was a little kid: on the tip of that drinking straw, my tongue felt the teeth impressions left by the person who had used it before me! Gag! I whipped out the straw and tossed it into the nearest trash can. When I was growing up, we kids would wash and reuse plastic straws, but that was the first time I'd received such a thing with a purchased drink. I've wondered but will never know...was that thing washed before it was my turn to use it?

I love interesting, true travel adventures. If you've ever experienced something odd while away from home, will you share that with us? Or maybe someone you know had a "fun" out-of-town experience?


  1. This story is not as exotic. My father was planting a church in downtown Toronto, Canada. My parents believed it would be a good opportunity to invite our English friends for "Thanksgiving" and feed them English style. We had lamb and green jelly for dinner. Blech! We all politly ate it with them. After they left, mom surprised us with a turkey she had simmering in the oven.

  2. Green jelly? I hope it's that color by design, and not by mold! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Mint by design - here are recipes just in case you wish to try!