Just now coming through airport security (for a flight that is, btw, either leaving a full hour early or late — impossible to tell since my tix, the agent, the board at check-in, and board at gate each show different times, AND flight is making an unexpected and unscheduled stop back in Kinshasa — huh?), ok, back on point, so, security dudes search my bag and hone in on my flashlight.
Big dude says it’s a no-go unless he takes the batteries, which I comprehend only because he unscrews the bottom and takes out the batteries. I literally say, “oh man c’mon it’s no good without the batteries” — he shrugs at me — so I tell him to just keep it. Perplexed, the dude hands me back my batteries and says, I shit you not, “you give me money now” — the SECURITY dude at SECURITY!!! For giving me back MY flashlight batteries!!!
So I literally say, while cracking up, having gotten pretty adept at the shakedown game these past two weeks (haven’t lost one yet!), “You have got to be shitting me?!” Now he is super confused and two other security dudes join in. So I just keep smiling and say, “Nah, you keep the flashlight, and the batteries, I don’t have any more of your money” (it’s illegal to take their money out of the country).
So then he says, are ready for this…“EURO??” What next? Credit card?? Then I gave him the “are you friggin’ kidding me don’t make go New York on your ass because this is not going to happen if I have to sit here all night just on principle” look. He handed me back my batteries, and my flashlight.
Ladies and gentleman, FINAL EXAM PASSED! I’ve never been more proud. Farewell for now, Congo, my friend! I will absolutely be back. It was a blast! On to Uganda!