Going out to the bars with friends and family is a universal experience that so many of us enjoy. If you have ever gone out you know when the music is good, the company is great, and the drinks keep flowing that sometimes practicality flies out the window. This temporary lapse of judgement can lead to some pretty regretful decisions. Whether its texting your ex, going home with that one person who will definitely look different in the morning, or a late-night food binge you’ll probably forgive yourself. However, the one thing that does not hang under the drunk excuse umbrella is drunk driving or trying to get home alone, too intoxicated to stand. Nowadays we are lucky enough to have Ubers and Lift that can save us from some pretty sketchy situations, but what happened before these innovations. Istanbul was early to the rescue in the 1960’s with their employ of basket men. Power to them because I already feel bad for Uber drivers, let alone having to carry a sloshed person on your back. It is truly a heroic deed.
The Idea Behind the “Kufeci”
In the Turkish language, “Kufe” translates to being so drunk you can not walk. They also have another saying “Kufelik Olmak” which means “needing to be carried home in a basket”. I do not know about you, but I am fully ready to adopt these sayings into my vocabulary. Next time my friend is stumbling out of a bar, I am just going to whip out “Kufelik Olmak” and maybe they will sober up. All jokes aside, these sayings are what landed Istanbul’s basket men the title of “Kufeci”. Their transportation was widely used, and the basket men became a popular drunk service in Turkey for much of the 1960’s.
A Little Extra Pocket Money
Most of Turkey’s basket men had other day jobs, and solely carried drunken patrons home as more of a side job. It is said many of these hardworking individuals worked as porters in the daytime. It is crazy to think that when the sun was out, they were out slinging luggage and when it set, they switched their profession to carrying people. I also found it interesting that many of the basket men were not paid by the patron they were carrying home. Instead, they were employed by the taverns to complete the service. I think this is a great solution so people could get home safely and leave the bar so they could close on time.
Overall, the idea behind the “Kufeci” definitely has merit. Drinking is a fun activity and when you are safe about it, it becomes that much more enjoyable. While I am glad that nobody has to break their back to take me home, I think it is a good reminder that we all need to be cautious during our good time. Even though the baskets do look spacious, I think I will stick to a designated driver on my next night out.