"On the Run" shop
Mobil gas station
Cairo Ring Road
Near Mirage City
I've parked my car and am getting out. Someone pulls up and parks to my right. He flings his door open and it hits my car.
"Sorry, I do apologise. Wasn't paying attention," he says. It's a young voice, sounding husky and well-brought-up.
I am about to give him a cutting look, then I notice he is wearing police uniform (all whites) and the trademark Ray-Bans.
"Fine. Okay," I say.
By the time I am walking into the shop, he is coming towards the entrance. An attendant greets him, the other attendant calls out after him: "Hope you had a pleasant journey sir."
"Hooda! [Nickname for Mahmoud.] All good?" He acknowledges his fans. His pistol is in the holder, hanging off his belt, and he is sauntering into the shop.
Inside the shop, at the espresso counter, the guy behind the machine says: "Sire Kareem, the usual for you sir?"
"Yeah ..." he oozes, John-Wayne-like.
"I waited for you yesterday Kareem Pasha [a bigging-up] for two hours, but then I had to go," says the espresso guy.
"Dude, I am so tired, I've literally just rolled out of bed. I'm not seeing straight. I need that espresso pronto. I swear to god, I was driving dazed just now," the cop says.
"Coming right up, [King] Kareem," the counter guy says. [The tone is deferential.]
"Naah, I couldn't come in yesterday to see the stuff you told me about. We were ON DUTY." the cop says.
"God give you strength, sir. No problem, just let me know when you want to have a look at the stuff, and I will bring it over from the hotel," the espresso guy says.
Whereas the cop had paid for some food at the main counter, something told me he was not going to pay for his coffee. And sure enough he didn't.
"Everything the way I like it, eh? Sugar, everything?" the cop says.
"Of course, yeah," the guy says. But he actually had not put any sugar - it is not part of his job. He was just deferentially agreeing, letting the cop correct the shortcoming himself later. [This is a common attitude in Egypt: people do not like to say no, they will lie and say yes, just so as not to disappoint you. You can fix it yourself later, they reason.]
The cop, Ray-Bans still on, goes off to stand at one of the waist-height tables. He lights up a ciggie, gets on the mobile to natter, and starts sipping his coffee. He notices the lack of sugar and casually reaches out for a pack. He cuts quite a handsome figure against the bright blue skies behind him. He certainly has presence.
Employees from the shop pass him, and everyone throws a smile or a hello. He acknowledges them with small nods.