The blood test nonsense really was the worst.
Apparently, I had to get a blood test and TB test for my work visa. To be honest, I procrastinated it for as long as possible, knowing how annoying doing things was in this country. But eventually the HR department started bothering the secretary at my school and I had to go. So one day I went to the hospital after work and I asked a security guard where I should go. He probably didn’t speak English and said nothing, just motioned for me to talk to these two doctors. But they were talking to some man sitting on a gurney, so I awkwardly stood there while they finished. Then I asked where I should go to get my blood test. She told me I had to come back at 8am the next day. (It was like 4pm and the hospital looked like it was closed, except for the emergency room with these two chatting ladies who ignored me for five minutes.)
So I went back at 8am the next day and the place was packed with people. All the signs are in Turkish, so I asked a man in a glass box (who’s not a secretary or receptionist; they have none of those. He’s a cashier, I think? Really not sure.) where to go and he told me vaguely to walk down a hall and go right at the end. I followed his directions, but ended up at the wrong counter. The lady at the counter told me “other side.” So I went to something on another side, took a number and waited for a counter that said “Laboratory.” That was the wrong counter too and the lady at that counter told me to go to this other counter and gave me enough direction that I thought I knew which counter she was talking about… But I was confused, because that counter was closed, and had been closed since I first went to the wrong counter at 8am. But there were a ton of people around that counter, so I asked someone who didn’t speak English if that’s where I should be for the blood test. That person, like I said, didn’t speak English, so it was not a fruitful conversation. But luckily some lady overheard and assured me that it was the right counter. And she told me to write my name on a paper that appeared to have been taken from someone’s purse. (Probably hers.)
I wrote my name on the paper and just sort of stood around with this mob of people, waiting for the counter to open, whenever that would be. Eventually it happened, and the lady behind the counter started calling out names from the list. Except there was a huge crowd of people clustered around her counter . And also a plexiglass between her and the crowd. So her voice did not carry at all. As such, I never heard her call my name. I thought I heard it at one point, but some lady rushed forward, so either she stole my spot (which is ridiculous because you hand the lady behind the counter your passport, so the lady behind the counter should have figured that one out) or they never called my name. So after straining to hear my name, I realized she was done calling names and now it was just a line. But there were actually two lines (I don’t know why; there was one counter) and Turkish people do not know how to queue, so they were a mess. I did my best finding the end of the line, but it was very confusing where the line went. And I waited and waited and waited.
Eventually I made it to the counter and I followed everyone’s lead of handing the woman the paper that my HR department had given me and my passport. Then I moved to the window next to her and paid money. Then that lady handed me back my passport and my small paper and a map. I assume this was part two of the scavenger hunt that is everything in Northern Cyprus. But I wanted to be sure before I left the hospital, which seems like a pretty good place for a blood test… So I tried to ask the lady if I should go there now. She didn’t speak English. (But of course. Why would someone in a job related to giving work visas to foreigners speak any language besides Turkish?) So I just grumbled my disdain and went off to this second magical location.
At the second location, they took my blood. But before they did that, I had to stand around for roughly forty minute, squished in a tiny room with other people waiting. There wasn’t really enough space for a line, so you just hand to know who you’d come in after. While waiting around, for our entertainment we could watch the person who had made it to the front and was getting their blood drawn. That person was in a chair on a raised platform in front, being tended to by the one nurse in the entire place. So we watched as one by one, people had their blood taken. I don’t know why we had to watch, or why we had to stand while we watched, but that’s how it was. The lack of line or number system here almost came to a heated point when one lady tried to cut the line. The two women from Turkmenistan and Afghanistan in front of me promptly chided her in Turkish. The potential cutter didn’t seem apologetic about it, and kind of just glared at them though.
After the nurse took my blood for the crowd that had dwindled to only about five people (I have no idea why I went in early. Everything would have been easier and less crowded if I had started the whole ordeal an hour or two later. And I probably would have finished around the same time. But everyone had insisted that I should go early…) she stuck me a second time. (TB test, I gathered.) Then she told me that I should come back on Saturday, but that they close at one. Her English was middling to bad, so I tried to clarify by asking, “So come earlier than one?” She replied, “Yes, early.”
So I walked a mile to come back on Saturday (not having a car is awful here.) And she glanced at my arm where she’d put the TB test. And told me to go to the hospital on Friday for the results.
On Friday morning, instead of going to work, I went to the hospital for my results, but had no idea where the hell to go, yet again. I waited at the laboratory for a little while again. (Because they have a number system and it’s the only counter I feel comfortable asking questions at.) But that was taking forever because Turkish people don’t understand the number system, so they kept just pushing in whenever. So I went back to the counter where I’d paid the last time and asked her. She directed me downstairs. But the man downstairs told me that the results from that second magical location weren’t in yet. He said the doctor was signing them. To come back at one or two. I asked what time they closed and he told me three.
Which meant that I had to go to work. Then come back before work ended. And then go back to work. It takes me roughly an hour to get to my work from the hospital due to the fact that I have to walk most of the distance. So I spent more time traveling to and from the hospital than I did working. Which is especially painful when that travel time is largely walking. And it was hot and sunny by the time I was doing the second round.
And of course, as a cherry of incompetence on the sundae of ineptitude, when I finally had the damn results and went to my HR department to drop it off, there was nobody in the office. So I went to the secretary’s office next door and she told me to go back to the office and wait for them… like she couldn’t hand it to them, I needed to do it myself? What kind of secretary is she, exactly? So I sat there waiting for a few minutes, until a woman came in. I had also been told by my vice principal that I needed to pay some fee, but this woman had no clue what the hell I was talking about when I mentioned that. I will not be mentioning it again, obviously. But of course, somewhere down the line something will fuck up and it will be my fault for not insisting that I pay a fee, of an amount I’m not sure of, to someone who didn’t seem to know anything about it.
And the whole time I was waiting in lines or watching people get blood taken, I was fondly reminiscing about my work visa in Abu Dhabi. The school had picked us up and driven us to do it and gently shuffled us through the process and then dropped us back home at the end. And all of it had happened in one location. And all the doctors and nurses had spoken English. And there had been a number system that everyone followed and everyone had waited patiently in a sea of chairs laid out specifically for waiting people. And procedures like blood taking were done in private rooms. And the whole thing had taken roughly half an hour. And the school had collected and processed the results when they were ready. And it was a beautifully easy time, it really was….