Saturday, December 15, 2007

Heaven and Hell ( almost ) ! Part 4

The concluding story.....

The events which unfolded previously had pushed me into a most terrible predicament, an unwanted major crisis and a potential hell-hole. I was at the tip of a disaster. The entire heavenly holiday trip was turning into a huge nightmare. My entire tour group, including my family, had cleared customs and immigration, without any problems. But I was driven back to Medan city in a jeep and now approaching the main office building, escorted by 2 customs officers to have a face to face meeting with the Director of Customs.
As we ascended the lift to the Directors' office I already knew what had to be done, what needed to be done....on my part. [ In case anyone here thought I would "buy" my way out.....I can assure you that I am TOTALLY against offering of bribes and totally ALLERGIC to Corruption. Those who know me well will and can attest to this.
On many of my travels both long and short, I have been subjected to unexplained, irregular stops, checks, roadblocks, etc..purportedly for " something nebulous". I HAVE NEVER GIVEN A CENT AWAY despite all sorts of threats and accusations...with some openly asking for bribes as a way to "release" me/us....especially in a neighbouring country.] I will share some of these later.
As we entered the Director's plush office, the customs officer escorting me, closed the huge door and greeted the big boss.....and began to speak or rather make the accusations about why we were there. I gave him no chance to influence the boss. No chance! It would be dangerous for me had he succeeded in making a mountain out of a molehill over this Blunderbuss thing.
So I went into overdrive mode.
I must state here that I cannot reveal the entire details of what and how I put forward my position ( note....I did not use the term"case"here as it was 100% apparent to me there was no case at all in the 1st place ). Suffice to say that firstly....I only spoke in ENGLISH although I could speak Bahasa. I asked the Big Boss, " Can you speak English ? "
He answered ," Certainly "....that's why he was sitting in that big armchair!
I said," Excellent! Then let me tell you exactly what this matter is simply about before your
man here confuses you and get You and the others into any unwanted trouble."
I briefly recounted the Blunderbuss buy, check-in, commotion created by his men, his customs chief declining to make any decision, and me being whisked away like a common criminal to appear before him right then. I urgently impressed upon him that should I miss my flight home because of all this nonsense...I can almost assure him that the following things will happen...
(a) and (b) and (c )....part of my 3 step checkmate.
Meanwhile, the escorting officer who had not spoken out yet...opened his mouth to speak.
The Big Boss yelled at him, " Diam !" [ Silence or quiet! ] .
He waved the chap over and asked for the Blunderbuss to be placed on his desk.
Big Boss held the antique gun, looked it over carefully and asked me just one question....ever so politely that I was impressed.
" Will you allow me to use a key to scratch my initials on the butt of the gun ? "
I replied, " Go right ahead. No problem to me at all. "
He took a key from his desk and made some tiny marks scrapping off the tiny bit of surface wood from the butt.
Photo: [ see the previous blog picture of the close-up butt of the gun ]
He then said," It's ok now."
The escorting officer, who was standing at attention, and watching all these must have been briefed on what and how he should make out the case against me. He began to speak again..and was " Diam!" a 2nd time by the Director.
Now , the Director showing this nincompoop and "the others" who was really Big Boss ordered him to return me to the airport safely and to further escort me to the plane and ensure I did not miss my flight! The Nincompoop, turned around and saluted to his Big Boss who thrust the towel wrapped gun into his hands.
The final order by Boss, " Cepat !"
The shuddering and non-plussed nincompoop asked in a soft voice what should he do with the gun. " Return it to him. It's his. He can bring it home with him. I don't want any more problems you understand? "...said Boss.
" Yes Sir!" ...the deflated and demoralised nincompoop answered. Obviously, he and the others must have thought they were to be hugely complimented or rewarded for "this case". What a dressing down he got and the others may yet received.
I thanked the Director of Customs and shooked his hands warmly. I felt that he knew that I knew he had openly shown a strong hand to his nincompoop as I was critically assessing the situation and his leadership and how I would evaluate the whole matter later.
Nincompoop and the jeep driver then drove me back at breakneck speed to Polonia airport.
We rushed through all the checks, collected my suitcase and when I was standing before the last X-ray scan machine as my suitcase went through, the monitor screen showed the image of a gun.....and the security officer manning it shouted," Senapang!"
Not again! My Goodness, I thought.
Then the nincompoop yelled at the X-ray officer to ignore the image and just let me through.
" On whose orders?" X-ray challenged.
" Director Besar!" nincompoop answered with a full air of authority now.
"And we are to assist him into the plane ! " Poop added.
" You have written orders?" X-ray added.
" Director's initials on the gun Butt !"yelled Poop.
And so it was fated that the SIA plane on the tarmac, engine thrusting, about to take off, still had one final passenger....yours truly! When I entered the plane, everyone looked at me in total disbelief as though they had seen a ghost. They thought I was a "goner". Many had thought they might not see me again for a long time.
My family members were relieved and estatic.
I was gone for an hour but the weight of that experience felt like an ETERNITY!

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