I arrive at Tel-Aviv airport, 3.5 hours early – security is tight and I'm flying standby. I make my way to the counter, hand over my passport. I receive the shock of my life.
First, though, a little background. Eight days before my flight departed Tulsa for Israel, I came to the realization that I had lost my passport. After visiting the Tulsa passport office, I learned the soonest I could get it would be two weeks – one week too late. I was informed that I could fly to Houston, meet with the Regional Passport Office and be issued a passport in 48 hours. It meant coming up with a couple hundred dollars that I didn't have. What choice did I have?
I spoke with my dad, we made flight plans for Houston. I would be back five days before my flight departed for Israel.
My friend's dad said he had a connection. He could get my passport in 48 hours without having to go in person. We completed the necessary paperwork, submitted everything, with four days remaining before my flight to Israel. However, I was informed that I had already lost one passport (I still think they made that up. How do you forget losing a passport?). I asked that my first and second passports be nullified and a replacement issued instead. Government isn't keen on replacing one lost passport, let alone two. So we filled out the paperwork for two lost passports, resubmitted the application with now two days before my departure.
Somehow the Almighty smiled on me because the passport arrived on the night before my flight departed the next morning. All had gone well.
Back to the Tel-Aviv airport and the story. The Israeli I handed my passport to had a confused look on his face. He called someone whom I assumed to be his supervisor. This person examined the passport further and then called someone else who seemed, at least to me, to be his supervisor. This individual looked over the passport thoroughly, and asked me to follow him into what looked like the security offices (The writing was in Hebrew. I can get by in biblical Hebrew, but modern Hebrew is totally different). I followed him completely and wondered why I had been chosen on this “special journey”.
I was interrogated without a break for 2.5 hours. Remember I was completely ignorant as to why this was happening. Whenever I asked, I was casually told they merely wanted to ask me a few questions. Keep in mind, too, that these were friendly southern gents with a cup of coffee and a smile. They were airport security in a very dangerous airport.
No matter my answer, I was treated as if it were the wrong one, or completely absurd. I was asked every question at least three times by three different interrogators, then I was stripped to my boxers and received everything but an enema. They went through my luggage – one article at a time.
At the beginning I was nice, polite and I answered everything with “yes sir, no sir”. By the end of the process, though, I was a total asshole. I responded with classics like “What do you think?”, “You asked me that one already,” and my favorite “Did you not hear me or were you incapable of understanding the first time I answered?”
I was ready to yell. They finally told me why I was there. My passport indicated I was female. I thought to myself, “Well at least that explains all the groping.” I started laughing, what else could I do?
They sort of released me; the questions and touching session were over, but I had two bodyguards walk me everywhere. They are with me right now! Fortunately, the airport has wireless internet. I’m typing; they’re speaking Hebrew.
I imagine this is the best day of their lives. They have spent the last hour sitting with me at the gate from which I will depart. I assume they will walk me down the hall to my seat on the plane. I’ve thought of a hundred jokes for them (Does your wife know you're gay? I can tell by the way you were caressing my package, etc.). I fear, though, they wouldn’t understand and my comedic genius would be wasted.
I’m looking forward to London airport. At least they will understand me. Maybe they’ll buy me dinner first.