I recently recognized how valuable our EU borderless travel system really is! Getting stuck at the immigration desk isn’t really fun in some countries. Actually for me it was, at least to a certain extend. My trip from FRA via LHR to JED ended at the Saudi Arabian border police desk. After a night flight I lined up as usual at the counter for GCC citizens as the lane for Businessmen and diplomats was way longer and the Umrah traveller waiting area looked more like a bunch of housewifes hunting for the last pack of undies at the rummage table during season’s sale. The Germans discipline to stand and wait in line was unbroken, until i reached the counter. “Your visa expired” was the welcome phrase. Not really something you want to hear after a night flight especially when you have successfully completed the marathon of visa extension a couple of days before through the desert of helpfulness of Saudi governmental offices. The explanation that my visa was extended and the stamp was renewed could not break through to the center of understanding of the young policeman. “Please go to table there”, was the next and last information I got on this day.
“The table” was occupied by “the table master”, an elderly but gentle officer, taking my passport, flipping through my various Saudi visas and then instructing: Sit down! Any attempt of explanatory nature was interrupted by “Sit down” – repeated in a 30 sec interval. Even the question – after total resignation – where I could take a seat was sonourously echoed by a comanding “Sit down”. By that time a had a feeling that this was some kind of standard process and that no one ever explained the table master why he is supposed to say this strange phrase in a language he doesn’t even understand. You want to know the clear evidence for my theory? Well, there wasn’t a chair or bench in the near vicinity which he could have referred to!
After approx 5 minutes of standing around in the office a young policeman (let’s assume he already attained full age) came walking behind me with his gun and pushed me out of the office towards a wooden bench somewhere in the corner of the immigration area. I seriously tried to comply with his instructions as they were delivered physically. Every trial of conversatory interaction was ending like a wave on the wide and flat beach of ignore-the-strange-man-with-the-funny-sounding-language. After the last convincing physical instruction with his gun, I took a breath, surely only to thank him for bringing me finally to a bench, but before my grateful words could enlighten the day of the soldier a “Sit down” was echoed again. Roger ‘n’ Wilco! What else to say. I was thinking of asking the guy if he is somehow related to the table master family-wise, but after considering all vocabulary I have heared in the last 20 minutes, i decided bot to, because I knew already the answer.
2 hours later, after having organized my own ticket for the deportee-flight back to LHR, I got very bored. So I decided to get some entertainment: Breathe in…open mouth…starting to ask for information what is happening now…”Sit down”. At least it was a try. another 2 hours later a 4.star General from the border police showed up: “Hello, your visa has expired”, and walked away before I had the chance to really realize what a valuable information I just got. I think that was about the time when my good willingness was gone and the jokers image was revealed on my face. With the theory that my guard, table master jr. possibly had the instructions not to leave me alone, I started inspecting the toilets of the transit area for the next 4 hours for every 15 minutes. The fact that the way to the restrooms alone took 3,5 minutes was the satisfying element when the tablemaster jr. was doing the turn for the 3rd time and then ever since.
Finally, after 8 hours and 237,8 visits to the restrooms and 183729 sit-downs, an English speaking officer greeted me and told me that he will take me to the aircraft for my flight back. “Visa expired, huh?!” Wait, could it be that you are somehow related to the guy with the 4 stars? After entering the aircraft, a gentle “please have a seat” took me back to the civilized world, but wait…the cabin crew has a similar look like the tablemaster…
If you have a similar story to, please let us know. May be we will start an Almost-in ranking. My favorite as deportee untl now is definitely JED.