I know I’m going to open myself to attack on this one and deservedly so but before you unleash your fury please understand I am candidly sharing this experience when I probably should keep it to myself.
As I had written, food poisoning struck leaving me delirious. In fact, on Saturday I forgot my beloved Blackberry at the front desk when I went to ask for medicine. Obviously, I was never in danger of losing my phone since nobody uses a Blackberry besides me.
Ill, I felt a need to strip myself of my possessions including my Garmin golf/run watch. I placed it on the night stand and went to sleep. During the night I recall hearing a noise of something falling and thought nothing of it. Fact: it is always something.
The next morning I packed my things and took the free, that’s right free, shuttle to the airport. Score another transport success for TPOL.
The security at Sharm airport wasn’t any different from a normal airport on a normal day for domestic flights. Flights to the UK required passengers to arrive five hours before departure.
Feeling better, I sat at the gate, happy that my Egypt sprint was coming to an end. This happiness was short-lived as I instantly felt sick when I felt for my watch and only found my masculine wrist.
A pointless check of my bags yielded nothing as I instantly recalled the noise from the night before. Frantic, I rushed to the coffee shop and asked to use the phone to call the hotel. The barista graciously let me borrow his and despite the call dropping multiple times I got a hold of the hotel who advised me to call back in 7 minutes for the results.
7 minutes passed and I tried to call but the phone would not work. Seconds were ticking away and I was doing a terrible job of running the two-minute drill. I asked another kind stranger for his phone and he allowed me to call. (On a side note, I have unlimited intl data on ATNT and I disabled voice for all the drunk dialing/inadvertent calls that run up my bill when I’m abroad. I’ll be changing that back.)
The good news was that the hotel had found my watch, the bad news is that they required 120 EGP or $14 to bring it to me. So much for free ride to the airport.
It’s funny how bargaining is enjoyable until the shit turns real and you actually need something done. They could’ve said double, even triple that amount and I would have agreed, chalking it up as a fine for my stupidity.
The thrill ride continued when I tried to exit the airport and was stopped by a mob of security guards. They yanked my boarding pass and let me leave. From there, I paced back and forth outside the terminal waiting for my savior to arrive. He finally did but it wasn’t in the 12 minutes the hotel had stated. (not sure about the odd times they kept quoting.)
The driver gave me the watch and I offered him the last of my EGP, 105, not the 120 required. I wrongly believed that this was a Hyatt car and they wouldn’t care about $1 difference especially when it is a ‘twelve minute’ drive to the airport.
Nope. Wrong. The driver called to security. The security told him to get over it. He insisted. They pleaded. I grew more nervous. I should’ve been proactive and gone to the ATM in anticipation of this being an issue specifically because I truly would’ve given 3x the money But, at the time, having exact change, was the last thing on my mind. Terrible reasoning I know.
The security escorted me back into the terminal where I withdrew 60 EGP. As bad luck would have it, the money was dispensed as one 50 and one ten. Back out the terminal, with the 24 soundtrack ticking in my head, I presented the 50 and 10 to the driver.
He took out a wad of cash with 100 dollar US notes and a stack of Egyptian pounds. The security snatched the ten out of my hands gave it to the driver who vigorously protested and escorted me back inside.
I made my flight with time to spare and am now reflecting on what transpired. I can’t say I blame the driver for demanding payment in full but maybe a hint of compassion would’ve been appropriate. After all, when I was a cabbie, I often extended a helpful hand without expecting anything in return. On the other hand, in the words of Jay-Z, “You owe me 120 Egyptian pounds, you pay me 120, not 105.” Then again Jigga did borrow the Egyptian tune for his famous Big Pimpin, so there is latitude for generosity.
In conclusion, Sharm el-Sheikh was supposed to be relaxation but that was hardly the case. Next time I come to Egypt I’m staying in Cairo where the chaos makes me comfortable.
Correction (12/1/2015): Above I said “I should’ve gone to the ATM”. It should read, I should’ve gone to a ‘different’ ATM. The only ATM in the terminal didn’t accept my card and that’s why I didn’t have the correct amount.