Funniest Thing for December

This item appears on page 16 of the December 2008 issue.
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Tell ITN about the funniest thing that ever happened to you while traveling in a foreign country. There are no restrictions on length. (ITN prints no info on destinations in the US, Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean.) The ITN staff will choose each month’s winner, who will receive a free one-year subscription to ITN. Entries not chosen cannot be acknowledged.

This month’s winner is ROGER ATLAS of Seattle, Washington:

Traveling from Cotonou, Benin, to Lagos, Nigeria, in 1972 when I was 26, I hitched rides between downtown markets in small trucks. With open trucks, dusty roads and the accumulated results of many days on the road, I ended up looking like a reject from civilization.

The Nigerian Immigrations officer did not want to let me enter the country even though I had a valid visa. He said he was concerned that, as a poverty-stricken bum, I might become dependent on the state for support.

I showed him that I had plenty of cash and travelers’ checks. He remained inflexible. I explained about my employment and gave every argument that would demonstrate I was an upstanding citizen of the world. No change.

Finally, I pulled out my American Express card. He looked at it, said, “Don’t leave home without it,” and waved me through the border crossing.

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

Tell ITN about the funniest thing that ever happened to you while traveling in a foreign country. There are no restrictions on length. (ITN prints no info on destinations in the US, Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean.) The ITN staff will choose each month’s winner, who will receive a free one-year subscription to ITN. Entries not chosen cannot be acknowledged.

This month’s winner is ROGER ATLAS of Seattle, Washington:

Traveling from Cotonou, Benin, to Lagos, Nigeria, in 1972 when I was 26, I hitched rides between downtown markets in small trucks. With open trucks, dusty roads and the accumulated results of many days on the road, I ended up looking like a reject from civilization.

The Nigerian Immigrations officer did not want to let me enter the country even though I had a valid visa. He said he was concerned that, as a poverty-stricken bum, I might become dependent on the state for support.

I showed him that I had plenty of cash and travelers’ checks. He remained inflexible. I explained about my employment and gave every argument that would demonstrate I was an upstanding citizen of the world. No change.

Finally, I pulled out my American Express card. He looked at it, said, “Don’t leave home without it,” and waved me through the border crossing.