October: “What’s this?” the security guard asks, yet again…
A Little Nervous
Jean and I were a little nervous travelling to the Middle East. The customs and language are so different, and we had heard that corruption is a known problem. But experiencing the wonders of the Great Pyramid in Egypt and Petra in Jordan were high on our list. To be on the safe side, we hired private guides for the entire trip, and they were wonderful, and the trip was mostly smooth.
On our last morning in Egypt, however, we encounter a security checkpoint before as we entered the Cairo airport for our flight to Jordan. And this time, we are on our own with a lone rumpled security guard. Like a shark to blood, he zeroes in on our two little backpacks for a manual inspection. He begins pulling treacherous items out of my bag.
“What’s this?”, he demands. “Uh, reading glasses”. He frowns and returns the case to my bag.
“What’s this?”, he demands again. “Electric razor”. I motion shaving. The frown deepens.
“What’s this?” “A computer mouse.” “What?!?”. I motion again, pointing to my laptop. His brows furrow.
“What’s this?” “A power converter.” “What?!?”. I plug a US cord into it and point to an outlet. Deeper furrows follow.
“What’s this?” he demands yet again, pulling out my Gillette safety razors, nestled in their plastic packaging. I tell him, and he triumphantly declares “NOT ALLOWED!” and gleefully places it on his desk. I cocked my eyebrow inquisitively, but say “O-kay…”
At this point, I realize he wants something. Maybe just confiscated contraband to show he is doing his job. I suspect though either a bribe or treasure to take home. Regardless, he is satisfied with my bag, and moves on to Jean’s to repeat the whole process.
“What’s this?” “Band Aids”, Jean promptly responds, having observed the drill. These Band-Aids happen to be the nifty little round ones. He turns them over a couple of times, and then coming to a decision, quietly sets them aside with the razors.
“What’s this?” Medicine, laptop, plug-in converter, shoestring, clothespins. Each he drops back in her bag, disappointed. The process is suddenly interrupted by three Egyptian gentlemen queueing up behind us. We were no longer alone, so inspection is over.
“Ok, you can go.”
“My Band Aids?” Jean asks, looking at him pointedly.
“What?!?” he replies.
She points. He squints his eyes, and reluctantly hands them over. We quickly pack our things and leave.
A Little Laugh
As we walk to our gate, Jean notes how much the guard really wanted those safety razors.
“The funny part is”, I tell her, “they were dull and used.” “Really?” “Yes, really!”
We laugh, tension relieved, and make our flight.