Springing a young hawker

At the base of a pyramid near Cairo, Egypt, in January ’05, a young boy approached my wife, Mary, and me and asked if we would buy souvenirs. We smiled and said “No.” He thanked us for not ignoring him, gave Mary a small turquoise beetle and said, “You have a nice day. Smile at everyone you meet. This is for you for good luck. Good-bye.”

Mary Helber exerting pressure on the brass in Egypt.

A little later we decided we hadn’t bought quite enough junk for one day, so we sought out this nice young fellow and made a purchase from him. It was a very harmonious transaction.

Suddenly some big guys were hauling the kid off. They arrested him and put him in the back of a military police vehicle, apparently for selling without a license.

Mary became very upset and pleaded with the police for his release. She explained that he hadn’t been bothering us and had been very kind. They informed her that only the commanding officer could release him, and they pointed him out.

A few seconds later, Mary was in the middle of all the military and everyone was gesturing in every direction. Proud Mary kept on rolling, and within a few minutes the young man was released. He started to run away, then returned to us. With a quick “Thank you” and a smile, he was gone — but not forgotten.


Scottsdale, AZ