Soapbox Story

Going through security checks at Riyadh Airport where, as in every other international airport, you have to empty your pockets and rid yourself of anything remotely metallic, by placing it in the obligatory tray to push through the X-Ray machine.  A middle-aged gentleman from Pakistan, Bangladesh or thereabouts (I could tell from his dress of khet (long shirt) partug (trousers like) and a waistcoat.

He clearly was a man of limited means, modestly dressed and seemed like a temporary immigrant worker who had come to the end of his working assignment in Saudi Arabia and returning home with whatever money he managed to save.  Our friend had collected a tray and placed it on the floor but obligingly, he stepped aside to let people behind him go through while he took his time emptying his pockets.

I Picked a tray, placed it at the end of the conveyor belt, and proceeded to put my stuff in it. I looked to the side to see if our friend was ready to resume his place in the queue ahead of me.  He wasn’t.

He wasn’t ready because he had not finished emptying his pockets of their contents.  The contents consisted of bars of soap; lots of them.  I estimated there were about 20 to 25 bars and still going.  I pushed my tray along the conveyor belt and walked through the “for people” X-Ray, I could still hear the thud, thud of bars of soaps being unloaded out of his pockets.  I wondered how many he finally managed to empty from his many pockets.

I understand fully why he was carrying the soap on his person, presumably because they are heavy and bulky, which would have exceeded his check-in luggage weight limit.  What I didn’t understand is why the poor man felt he needed to put them through X-Ray at all since they were not made of any substance likely to trigger the X-Ray machine as he passed through it.

Human ingenuity never ceases to amaze.

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