I spent the last few days in the beautiful city of Marrakech, a city that I love. However, there are some things that always annoy me, and number one on that list is airport security. I detest them with a passion and have a worthy cause for my dislike. On my first day I was so angry with the interaction I had with the security officer that as soon as I got to my hotel, I took out my travel journal and wrote about my experience. A few days later, I began to think about this encounter again, except this time from the security officer’s perspective.
P.S. Marrakech was wonderful as always (after I left the airport) and I had a wonderful trip and would highly recommend the city. Check out the guide I wrote, which has tips on what to do, where to stay and much more, as well as some great pictures.
Ten minutes after disembarking, I am reminded of the racism and sexism of North Africa. It is not that these isms do not exist in the Western World but that they are not showcased in this form.
He looked me up and down and back to the passport he held in his hand.
“so YOUR’RE from England” he uttered. As if England was the last place that my kind would be. If I had an American passport perhaps it would have been easier for him to comprehend. Afterall my ancestors were slaves in the not so distant past. That would have been a connection easy enough for him to make.
At the window next to mine, I could hear Arabic being spoken between the security officer and a man, laughing and joking. The security officer assigned to me was leaning in, trying to join in their conversation. At one point, he left his booth to go his neighbour in order to assist the Arab man. What excellent customer service, if only it was translated to all incoming tourists.
He finally returned to his booth, after leaving me standing there for a few minutes. Unfortunately for me, he had not moved on from assessing my passport. He continued to scan my face, searching for the British in my features. He started to speak to his colleague in Arabic, with my passport still in hand. He finally honoured me with another question, this time he asked me about my occupation.
“I work for the government” I responded, getting tired of the verbal and non-verbal interrogation.
“You mean you’re a secretary” he stated, matter of fact.
“Yes” I said, smiling as best as I could as he finally handed me my passport.
Another shift, another day sitting here doing the same thing everyday. The job itself was not the hard part, it was the people who came here, so entitled because they are from the West. It is as if they think that they are better than us, that they are doing us a favour by visiting our country.
Husain stamped the passport and beckoned at the next tourist. He could hear his colleague in the booth next to his, having a conversation with a Lebanese man in Arabic. He wished so badly that he was part of that conversation, to actually speak to someone in his mother tongue always made his day.
She walked up to him, dragging along her whole family. Hussain was not in the mood to deal with all four of them at once. He raised his right hand and beckoned only one person at a time. She understood and came forward.
She handed him her passport and boarding pass, what did she think he needed her boarding pass for? She was already in the country. He moved it to the side and scanned her passport. It said that she was British, it was not the nationality he expected from her, he thought she would have an African passport, maybe south Africa or even Jamaica, but instead it was British. He scanned the passport photo and then her face, making sure it was her. He looked at the name on the passport, she had an Arabic first name and a foreign middle name and last name. He looked at her again and asked her to remove her glasses. He wondered how to pronounce her middle name.
“You’re from England?” She just looked at him and smile, so he repeated it again, “so you’re from England?”
“Yes I am” she said reluctantly.
This was what he got for trying to be friendly. He could hear the conversation in Arabic and there was an issues with the computer that he could fix. He got up from his seat and went to assist his colleague and the customer, he just needed to see a friendly face. He came back to his seat and asked her what she did out of interest, he had not asked the last person this question because he didn’t care, but she looked younger than her date of birth and wondered if she was still a student.
“I work for the government” she said
Hussain wondered why she didn’t just say what she did. Why did Westerners never say what they meant?
“You mean you’re a secretary?” he asked her.
Her face looked disgusted with the assumption as if he had called her a prostitute. What was wrong with being called a secretary?
She answered yes and took her passport, not even a thank you.
Thank you for reading.