That time I bribed airport security in India…

There’s a famous saying that India doesn’t just let you leave, it smacks the door on your ass on the way out. I was no exception to this rule.

After 3 years in India it was my final day in the country. I was scheduled to leave on a flight to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with no plans to return to India anytime soon.

I was finally ready to put my Indian journey behind me.

My friend Vineeth and his other friend Ananth (one of the first placements we made at BrainGain) came to pick me up and drive me to the airport. In typical Indian fashion, it was pouring rain during monsoon season.

We were stuck in traffic for most of this ride.

I arrived at the gate with about five minutes to spare before they stopped allowing people to print boarding passes. Rushed, out of breath, and with all of my belongings in tow, I was lucky enough to get the asshole behind the counter.

Sensing my urgency (and an opportunity), he stalled. He intentionally took longer than necessary to review my information so that the gate closed.

Then, right as the time expired, he looks up at me with an evil smile and says, “sorry boss, the gate is now closed. I can’t let any people through anymore.”

I began to beg and plead with him that I was at the gate before it was closed. I accused him of intentionally stalling, but that didn’t help my situation.

Then, he looked at my bags. One of them was overweight. The other, I didn’t register.

Turns out I needed to fill out how many bags I planned on taking with me when buying my ticket…I didn’t do this.

Now he had me by the balls. He didn’t want to give me my ticket, wanted to charge the overweight baggage, AND wanted to charge for the extra bag. I didn’t have the money for any of this.

I pleaded with him for about ten minutes. I kept asking if there was anything that could be done. I HAD to be on that flight with all of my bags, but I didn’t have enough to do everything he’s asking of me. I searched for any empathy I could find.

Then, with the same evil smile he looks up at me and says, “how much cash do you have?” – I caught his drift…he wanted a bribe.

Luckily, I had about $100USD in Indian Rupees on me. Given that I was leaving and had no ability to use this money anytime soon, I jumped at the opportunity.

After some negotiating back and forth he agreed to take the $100 in cash, put my overweight bag through free of charge, and then charge me on my credit card for the extra bag. Deal!

We agreed to check all of my bags and then meet at the upstairs bathroom to do the cash handoff. And so we did.

He then checked all of my bags, printed my boarding pass, and gave me instructions of where to go and what to do, all while trying to hide his cunning smile.

I didn’t mind as long as I got on my flight – all things considered, if I wasn’t late I would have probably had to pay for both the overweight bag AND the additional bag, which would have amounted to more than the deal we agreed to. I was getting off cheap in comparison.

Everything went through smooth as could be. After checking my bags and giving me my boarding pass, I went upstairs to meet him at the bathroom. We made the cash handoff.

Deal. Complete.

Then, rather unexpectedly, he told me to follow him.

He proceeded to personally escort me through customs, security checks, and then got me a golf cart to transport me to my gate. Then when I arrived at the gate he put me through the first class line.

Bribe well spent.

I got on my fight with time to spare, relieved and laughing to myself at the absurdity of the situation.

India, you never cease to amaze me 😃


Also published on Medium.

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