Working in a country where democracy is more of a wish than a practice can throw up some pretty tricky situations.
One guy discovered this the hard way and posted an account of his brush with, what we have to assume wouldn’t have been the most pleasant of jails, to the always informative ‘Today I Fucked Up’ (TIFU) Reddit thread.
Theatrill works on a ship just off the coast of Congo, and his most recent trip home to Europe – where he lives – coincided with the country’s elections.
Now according to Theatrill things were not going too smoothly:
We got reports of people being shot in the streets by the different factions, and the country seemed on the verge of blowing up.
So he did what anyone would and tried to obtain as much information as possible about the situation in the local city.
However, according to him:
News media aren’t very reliable as they are controlled by the ‘democratically elected president for 30-something years’ so I tried to find out from other sources how the situation really was.
That’s when I found a ‘super secret’ Facebook group started by the resistance / opposition / whatever. In retrospect, any ‘super secret’ Facebook groups I could find, probably weren’t the smartest thing to join.
He wasn’t wrong. So, crew change day comes along and Theatrill takes a bus to the airport with everything seeming fine.
Which it was until he came to the passport control:
[The officer] looked at my passport, looked at a list he had handy, then up at me and simply stated: “You have big problems now mister.”
Shit. Apparently the Congolese government had also found the ‘super secret group’ and had handily kept tabs on everyone that had joined it.
According to Theatrill:
The government official continued with a grin, stating that I could be charged with treason and best case scenario, I would be thrown in jail. Fuck.
So, he did what anyone would do in the situation and spotted the only potential way out of the mess he had inadvertently gotten into:
I looked at him, took a chance and pulled out my wallet, emptying it (approximately 500 dollars), casually giving him all my money.
He looked at me again, thought for what seemed like a bloody year and pocketed the money, giving my passport back. I nodded, he nodded and said: “Have a safe flight mister.”
To be fair $500 seems cheap to not have to spend months rotting as a political prisoner in a filthy jail cell… Lucky escape.