20th May 2013. A young man of late 20s is in line at the immigration desk at Hong Kong Chek Lap Kok International Airport. He is wearing a light blue shirt, with the top button undone but he seems a little cold. He cleans his glasses repeatedly.
The immigration officer behind a prism shaped desk gestures for him to approach. They are about the same age. The young man hurriedly puts on his glasses and goes up to the desk. He hands over his passport. The officer scrutinises the passport and the immigration slip.
OFFICER: (with a perfect British accent) Business or….
YOUNG MAN: (with an East Coast/ Midwest mix American accent) What do you mean?
OFFICER: What is the purpose of your travel?
YOUNG MAN: What is this? An interrogation?
OFFICER: Business or pleasure. Standard question sir.
YOUNG MAN: I’m not carrying a bomb if that’s what you’re worried about.
OFFICER: These are sensitive times sir, and brandishing the b word at border controls probably doesn’t work to your advantage. It is in your best interest to answer as truthfully as possible. (beat) Just following protocol. Please answer the question.
YOUNG MAN: Jeez, I thought Hong Kong was all about free speech. Look, I’m sorry I dropped the b bomb. Not used to all this air con. Can you turn it down a bit?
OFFICER: Buttoning up your shirt might keep you a bit warmer.
YOUNG MAN: Of course, not really your job. To answer your question. A bit of both.
The officer squints at the young man.
She takes one final look at the passport and immigration slip, then back at the young man.
After some time…
She stamps it and hands it back to him.
OFFICER: Welcome to Hong Kong Mr Snowden. Enjoy your stay.