Sunday, December 13, 2009

Beware the men in blue hats

So, my international travel was a bit annoying this time.

First - a remarkably rude stewardess on the United flight yelled at me that I had to check one of my carry-on bags because it wouldn't fit in the overhead compartment. Now, this was factually correct, but it would have fit, had not someone who got on the plane after me swiveled it from sideways to lengthwise so that he could put his own (larger) carry-on bag in sideways. Rat bastard.

Then, we get on the flight to Baghdad, are in the air twenty minutes, and the captain gets on the intercom and says "Psych! we're not landing in Baghdad tonight, we're gonna turn around and go back to Kuwait, we'll fly in tomorrow." So, I have to book a night in a hotel in Kuwait. Okay, that wasn't so bad, and if there's one thing the Arabs do well (besides kebab), it's breakfast. So I got to get up, have a good breakfast, and fly into Baghdad under cover of... sun.

On my way back into the airport, however, I had to go through security. At the end of the X-ray machine is a gaggle of men in blue hats. For anyone who has been through Kuwait, you know who these people are. For anyone who has not, if a main in a blue hat comes up to you, ignore him and do NOT let him pick up your bags. I learned this lesson the hard way after a couple trips. So this time, before I can even say a word, they've loaded my tiny suitcase and my back pack onto their cart and start walking the twenty feet towards the check-in counter. Now the one word in Arabic I will remember for the rest of my life is "la!" And I say it, again and again, but the man in the blue hat ignores me. At which point, I figure screw it. So I let him carry my bags the twenty feet on his little cart and when he looks at me expectantly for his payment for this service, I just shrug and say "no cash." He motions at the cart, and I shrug again, and explain to him (in English) that I didn't ask for his help, it was only twenty feet, and there's no way he's getting any money from me. I don't know if he understood a word I said, but he eventually got the point and grumped away. Made me feel good, though. I hate those guys.

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