Are Turks more honest than most? My Turkish friends modestly say no; I say yes.

If you lost a wallet with credit cards, a driver’s license, and $300, what would your chances be of getting it back? Depends on where you lost it, right? It would be interesting to know the chances by location—are Minnesotan more honest than New Yorkers? Or are Germans more honest than Italians? We don’t know.

But one thing I do know: if you’re going to lose your wallet, do it in Turkey.

Last month in an Istanbul Starbucks I reached for my wallet and it wasn’t there. I had just ridden in a packed tram, and I figured that I had lost it or had my pocket picked in the tram. Several hours later—11 pm, when I was in bed—I was awakened by a call from Enver Beyazyuz, a businessman who frequents that Starbucks. He had found my wallet on the men’s room floor, turned it over to the store manager, then had second thoughts: he wasn’t certain the manager, busy as he was, would make every effort to find the wallet’s owner. So he went back to Starbucks, asked to see the wallet again, found a business card of the hotel, and tracked me down.

He was at the hotel to drive me to Starbucks to retrieve the wallet, and then to drive me back to the hotel. Of course he wouldn’t consider accepting any reward. “For what?” he asked.

I had a similar experience ten years ago in Izmir, Turkey. At dinner at a sidewalk café I put my shoulder bag, holding a camera, binoculars, and a guide book, behind my chair, and promptly forgot about it. Three hours later at my hotel I discovered that the bag was missing. I ran back to the restaurant and found the bag, contents intact, on the sidewalk where I had left it.

My Turkish friends were unsurprised by both incidents. Of course nobody would steal my possessions, even when seemingly abandoned. Turks just don’t do that. Nothing special.

I think it is something special.

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2 Responses to “Are Turks more honest than most? My Turkish friends modestly say no; I say yes.”

  1. If you’ve got to lose something, lose it in Turkey, not in Silicon Valley « Ethics Bob Says:

    […] got to lose something, lose it in Turkey, not in Silicon Valley By Ethics Bob I’ve written here about how I recently left a wallet with all my credit cards and $300 in cash in an Istanbul […]

  2. Ethics Bob Says:

    […] written here about the remarkable honesty of—seemingly everybody—in Turkey. I got another example two days […]

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