I’m at the Dubai airport and duck into the bar with only 5 dirhams in my pocket (the equivalent of $1.36 USD). I get the bar tender’s attention, lay the dirhams out of the table and ask if I have enough for a water….
Three hours earlier…
I wake up in my hotel room and realize that I lied to myself when I said, “it’s okay, you will wake back up in just a few minutes”. It’s panic time now and I know that there is only enough time to pack or take a shower but not both. The choice is obvious so throw my stuff in my bags and then go through an excruciating check out of the hotel. I find a taxi pretty quickly outside, jump in and pray that I have enough money to pay when I get to the airport. After insane traffic, the taxi rolls up to the curb and I count out my paper money. Luckily, the fare is only slightly less than what I have so I give it all to him. I get my bags out and fight the holiday herd to a very long line for check in. “So this is why I need to do online check-in” I think to myself. After finally getting to the counter, the agent looks at my passport and begins to type what seems like a novel into her keypad. She pauses, squints at the screen and then gets into another marathon typing session. After about three of these routines, she says that there is no record of my ticket. My adrenaline shoots up and I scramble to find anything that shows my booking reference number. I finally find it, show the agent and she calls her supervisor over to help her look. The supervisor finds the ticket and all is good (I guess they were looking under the wrong “Larry Hudson”). Oh and by the way, I make sure to give the agent a snarky look on my way out. I’m sure she is still losing sleep over that one.
I grab my stuff and rush off to the passport and security area. After a long walk, I get there and the guy stops me so that he can weigh my bag. He puts it on the scale and says that I am 2.5kg over the limit. I must check the bag. I argue with him and tell him that I never check this bag. He says, “Sorry, they are getting very strict about it” and points me back in the direction of the ticket counter. I know what needs to be done but I’m in disbelief as I make the long walk back. “Why is this NOT done AT the ticket counter?” I ask myself. What a messed up system. As I’m walking back, I think about how many times I talk my way through these kind of things and that I must be losing my touch. After all, don’t they know who I am? Obviously that guy must be new and has not learned yet that I’m Larry Hudson and I operate around the rules. That thought makes me laugh a little and lightens my mood as I walk back. Finally getting back to the counter, I find myself waiting in a much longer line and decide to break straight to my initial ticket agent. I’m regretting the snarky look now as I explain that I need to check my bag. She was nice about it and this seems to go rather quickly. After getting my bag checked, I start the long walk back to immigration/security all over again. As I walk past the “new guy” I’m sure to give him a look too. Except he gets the extra snarky look. “Ha, take that loser” I tell myself. Then I realize that the guy really is just doing his job. I forget all about him when I look up to see the insanely long queues at the immigration area. I quickly do some profiling and decide on the one that has the least amount of people that will be problems. It doesn’t take long to figure out that I’ve picked the absolute worst queue because all the other queues are moving rather quickly. I look up to see who’s causing the hold up and see family of six surrounded by about four immigration officers. The family includes everyone from tiny infant baby to grandma-in-wheelchair and everyone in between. The brand of luggage they have is stuff-wrapped-in-blankets-and-tied-up-with-rope. Apparently, this is a very popular brand in some countries. The only thing missing from this family were their live chickens and livestock. How did I miss this crew when I was doing my profiling? Oh and by the way, I know that “profiling” is not PC but I do it anyway and all the time. I’m also about 99% accurate. Oh and another by the way, how the hell does their baggage weigh less than 10kg? I think someone did some profiling on me and decided to stick it to me. I can only pray that they figure this out soon and almost concede that I will surely miss my flight. Several immigration officers have been called over to sort it out and I see lots of animated gestures and shouting. After finally getting through immigration hell, I find myself repeating a similar situation in the security area. Only this time, our line holder-uppers are a gypsy family that seemed to got the “forbidden” substances sign mixed up. Apparently this family thought the sign meant that you ARE REQUIRED to bring all these items. WHY must this be the day that I’m picking the lines with all the troublemakers? Aye Yai Yai!!!
I finally get through the security and am screaming through the airport to make it to my gate. The journey includes long walks, endless down escalators, just missing the train, long wait for the next train, long train ride, endless up escalators and more long walks.
As I finally have my gate in sight, I notice that there are no people waiting. As I’ve learned from experience, unless you are super early, this is not a good thing. And I’m not super early.
As I make my way, I realize how incredibly thirsty I am. I haven’t had a sip of water all morning and I must get something before getting on that plane. I forget about how late I am for my flight and look around for a place to get some water. All the stores are packed with people and I see a small bar by my gate. I duck into the bar, get the attention of the sleepy bar tender and ask him for some water. As he’s putting an ice cold bottle of water in front of me, I pull out my wallet and see that it’s completely empty (oh yeah, I gave all my money to the taxi man). I look in my pockets, find 5 dirhams and ask the bartender, “can I buy a water with this?” It’s like a scene straight out of a convenience store when a young kid has just a few pennies and wants to buy something. The bartender looks at me, looks at my money and then looks back at me and says, “NOPE, you need 15 dirhams”. I literally beg him for the bottle of water and as he puts the bottle away, he pours some tap water into a small cup. I drink it down in one gulp, slam the glass down, thank the man very much and head off.
I’m feeling like a complete loser now as I rush to see if I’ve missed my flight. As I’m hurrying along, a young kid catches up to me. This kid is early 20’s, clean cut and wearing an Astros ball cap. He is spritely and chipper and as we rush along together, the kid tells me, “mister, I was trying to buy a water for you but you got away too quick”. I was and still am truly touched by the gesture of this young kid. We went along our separate ways and I ended up making my flight. Since that time, I’ve thought about this very short encounter many times. I think about how well this boy was raised, seeking opportunities to do good things and how proud his parents would be to see this happen. When I experience these small nuggets of human kindness, it inspires me to continue to seek opportunities to do the same. It also confirms my faith in the fact that there is a lot of goodness in this world.