Just when you lose faith in humanity, finding yourself cursing and spitting blood at the oiks in charge, along comes a nice man and dispels those paranoid thoughts in one fell swoop.
Only this morning I was hopping about on the empty promenade of Ismalia marina, having been left behind by the rally. We’d been woken at 5am only to be told that our pilot wouldn’t be turning up till ten. After our last experience of that ungrateful arse of a pilot Liz and I had said that whoever came on-board as our pilot for the second day would not get any more than $10 baksheesh. A proverbial kick in the nads would served if any objection was raised over the sum of our present.
When our pilot, an old boy whose name I never bothered to learn, turned up I made no effort to befriend him. He quietly went about his business, happily navigating through the fishing nets in the Bitter Lakes, chuffing away on 40 cigarettes. Occasionally he’d ask me to take over so he could either wee, pray or smoke. Fortunately he didn’t attempt all three simultaneously. He made no complaint or demand and eventually when we turned up at Port Suez in the dark he was patient and helpful.
So when I handed him $10 in an envelope and three packs of fags, to which he politely took with a gracious smile, I started to feel a bit bad. I felt even worse when everyone else on the rally, who had watched our arrival from the back of their boats, told me that the first sight of Esper was a grinning pilot quietly standing on the back of the boat returning their drunken banter with a warm smile. How bad did I feel? I almost ran after him to apologise for our uncharacteristically cold reception and offer him another tenner. I didn’t, so that made me feel doubly bad.
To make matters worse he had to catch a late train back to Ismalia to the news that Egypt lost to arch-rivals Algeria, ending their final chance at getting into the World Cup. Ooops.