We had to go through security check when we entered the airport. I had to place my suitcase and my backpack on the track that led into the scanner, take my laptop computer out of my backpack and place it in a tray, empty my pockets and put everything in a tray, … It was a bit of a hassle but I had done it a hundred times before and I managed it without too much trouble.
We then went through passport control. No problem.
We had arrived at the airport more than 2 hours ahead of the time of departure. Then we found out that the plane was delayed for more than an hour. So we had more than 3 hours to kill. But we had time so we were not worried. I went to the lounge to see what was available. It was already midnight and there wasn’t much left. So I had a coffee and read some newspapers.
When it was about time to board the plane we had to pass through another security checkpoint to get to the boarding gate. I had to take my laptop out of my backpack again. Except that my computer was not in my backpack! Where could it be? Had I lost it? Did someone steal it? What a disaster!
My colleague tried to help me recall what happened. I remembered that the last time I saw it was when I took it out out my backpack at the first security check point at the entrance to the airport. I did not remember putting it back. So I might have left it there. Would it still be there? Could I get out there again? It was already way past midnight, would someone still be there?
We rushed back to passport control. An officer was still there. I explained my situation. He told me to leave my passport with him and to get to the first security check point to see whether I could find my computer. I rushed down the stairs. I was glad at that point that the airport was not big.
As I approached the check point, I could see a computer sitting on a small desk next to the scanner, and two officers, one female and one male, were standing around. I explained that the computer was most probably mine. They asked me to prove it. I suddenly realised that I had no ID on my body. The male officer asked me what was in my computer and what would appear on the screen if they open it. I started to describe the mail program, the Safari browser, … I gave them my name and assured them that my name would be everywhere in the computer. I was probably not very coherent at that point. I don’t think I was panicking but I was certainly excited. The man spotted my boarding pass in my shirt pocket and pulled it out. Then we opened the computer and of course everything was as I described. They gave me back my computer and I breathed a big sigh of relief.
It was only then when I noticed that the security officers were smiling and friendly throughout the while time. The immigration officer was also helpful. Everyone was behaving honourably and respectfully, while dong their jobs.
I couldn’t help thinking that my computer had been sitting there for 3 hours, with few people around. If it happened in some other country, I probably would not be able to see my computer again.
Ever since I came to Rwanda for the first time in 2013, I have always had great respect for the people here. This episode just enhanced that respect, tremendously. Thank you so much, my friends.