A year ago I found myself outside a Jett bus office in Amman, Jordan. At six o’clock in the morning! It was cold and wet and the wind cut through me. A kiosk was open so I grabbed a tea and went into the office to wait for the coach, which arrived 40 minutes later. My destination was Jerusalem and I had been told it would take a good three hours to cross the border. I was feeling a little nervous at the prospect of a protracted ordeal, particularly as waiting and queuing are in the top five of my least favourite pastimes. But with Israeli border security watching your every move, I knew I had to make sure I showed no outward sign of frustration.
There were six of us and I immediately fell asleep only to be woken when we reached the Jordanian side of the border an hour later. We traipsed into a room, filled in our details and handed our passports to a border officer. We then returned to the bus and waited for about 20 minutes before being given back our passports. The bus travelled a further three miles before stopping again. We paid our departure tax to a soldier, then off again, this time crossing the tiny King Hussein Bridge, which marked the border between Jordan and Israel. I noticed a man in civilian clothes with a machine gun, then more men, all with guns.
We all got off and had to go through security. I was resigned to the inevitable long wait. We presented our passports. The woman looked at mine and asked me to sit on a chair. Everyone else had got through except me. I remained calm, I expected this given the number of times I’d been stopped at borders because I never look like my photo. Several minutes later, a man appeared, he asked me my name and asked if I’d assume the pose. I was nothing but civil and all smiles. They searched me. The soldier asked if I wanted a glass of water, I declined. Then he walked me to my bag and thanked me for my cooperation. I got my visa, which was not stamped on my passport but on a slip of paper. I was asked questions about where my family was from. In an effort not to look shifty I made sure to fix my most idiotic smile and that’s probably what helped get me through the process relatively quickly.