Your daily poker game
I was never good at poker, but my humble understanding of the game tells me that a large factor in winning is mastering the art of bluffing. Wear a neutral mask resembling your own face and you’re gold.
My face -however- gives me away. Constantly. The good thing about being friends with me is that you can easily tell if I hate you. It’s in my face.
I’ve come to realize that life in general is like a large-scale poker game. Politics, business and a lot of industries require you to practice wearing a particular face. If you hate someone at work, you have to pretend otherwise. You can either put on a completely different face and pretend they’re your best friend, or you can at least be professional.
Because my facial expressions are so blunt, I’ve gotten in trouble for not “playing nice” several times. I’m usually never blatantly rude, but my eyes are apparently full of hatred and judgment when someone annoys me. I’ve been accused of having an attitude problem and of being too harsh with others.
But forget about the business world -let me tell you about what got me to think about life in Egypt as a poker game.
As anyone who lives in this country can see, our police force has a passion for slowing down traffic to randomly pick drivers and see their licenses to get their catch of the day. From not wearing a seat belt to having tinted windows, they always find a reason to stop you and start an argument.
I was driving in a large road when a police officer decided to stop me and ask for my license -while ignoring all the high truck drivers and crazy psychos. Yeah, stop the harmless girl in the blue sunglasses; good move!
After looking at both my licenses, he eyed me curiously and decided I seemed like a fun target. He held on to the two cards with a clear intention of not giving them back. His argument was that the car’s license was under my mother’s name and not mine, so maybe I stole the car from under her nose or something. Because I totally look like a badass rebel daughter -just saying.
His next argument was about one of my windows; it was tinted because we had to change 2 of the car doors after a bad accident I had a few years back. The idiot who picked the two new doors decided to give us the tinted window, so now the car looks stupid and sad.
“Your license doesn’t say that your windows are tinted.”
“Well, it’s just one window,” I said, calmly explaining the situation.
Apparently the guy was in a good mood, because in a sickening baby voice he asked me if I was intending to change the window. I had to stop myself from gagging.
“Are you going to change the window? Are you going to change the window?”
“Well, it’s not a sticker, you know. The window itself is dark so I can’t really remove it..”
He then confidently tried to open the car’s back door to get in and verify this. I luckily had my car locked and -of course- got into a crazy psycho bitch frenzy about how he couldn’t dare get into my car while I was alone inside it. Yes, I embraced the panicked Egyptian girl in me.
After some arguing, I decided to pull over and see my options. After a quick call, I was told to go and tell him my mom was on her way to handle the situation. The officer would eventually have to leave, so he would get bored and let me have my licenses back.
So here is where you have to bluff -big time. You’re playing a very dangerous card; he either lets you go or he decides to wait for the person who isn’t even on their way. Then you can watch the sunset together.
When I expressed some worry over this tactic, I was told to try something else; just act angry and confident enough so that it seems like you know some important people who can get you out of this. Then he’ll get scared and let you go so he doesn’t get in trouble.
I decided to try this technique, and I wish I had some sort of exciting triumphant ending for this story, but I don’t. I walked to the police car in a huff, looking as angry as I could. I dramatically took off my sunglasses because I realized blue sunglasses didn’t exactly scream “trouble”.
By the time I approached the police car it was a different officer who didn’t give a shit. He didn’t even look my way while he threw the licenses in my face.
Needless to say, I was disappointed for not fighting my way out of it. All satisfaction was gone. All that drama and adrenaline wasted.
The point of the story is that this is how low we all have to sink. We have to bluff to get what we want. If you treat an officer with respect the way people abroad do, they will only take advantage of you and try to suck as much money as possible out of you. And if you bluff, there’s a risk you will be humiliated.
Because I have never and will never believe in the concept of bribing a police officer, you can imagine the amount of trouble I get into with them on a regular basis. It’s standard procedure; he stops you and expects some petty cash to shut up and let you go in peace. Once you try to reason your way out of a situation, you’re suddenly punished for doing the right thing.
Even if you have powerful connections, the mere act of telling them who you are or showing them an important business card is just that -you putting your cards on the table. You’re basically throwing the ball into their court and the winning bluff gets to walk away victoriously.
I guess the moral of story here is that you need to practice playing poker before living in Egypt. So if anyone can offer me lessons, that’d be great.