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Orianna2000
05-19-2014, 02:18 AM
I wrote a scene where my MC is stuck in a terminal at the Cairo international airport, thanks to her tendency to skip through time and space without control. It's modern-day, so they won't let her leave without a passport.

Now, originally, I had her find a two-toned pharaoh coin on the ground, which, according to my research would be worth one pound. This tells her where she is, and she uses it at a payphone to call Western Union, to arrange a cash transfer, so she can buy clothes and food.

The problem is, I just found a tourist website that says payphones in Cairo only accept prepaid cards, which you must purchase from vendors. Is this true at the airport? If so, would she be able to buy a prepaid card with her one-pound coin? Or would they be a bit more expensive?

If she can't afford to use the phone, does Western Union accept collect calls? I know they have a service to help people who've been robbed while on vacation, allowing you to get your money via password, instead of identification, but I don't know if this service goes so far as to let you call collect. I couldn't find anything on their website and when I Googled it, I found a bunch of ads for calling prison inmates. . . .

If there's no way for her to call, can she arrange the cash transfer in person, at the Western Union branch at the Cairo airport? I had the impression that without ID, she had to call, give them her bank account number and a password, then pick up the funds in person, using the password. But I could be wrong. I can't find what I'm looking for at the Western Union site, and the last time I tried to contact them, I got no reply.

Any help will be greatly appreciated!

NDoyle
05-19-2014, 05:10 AM
An Egyptian pound is worth about 14 cents (US). I am quite sure that even in Egypt you can't buy a prepaid card for so little. I don't see how she's going to be able to do anything at all financially without a proper ID, but I don't know how Western Union works.

Could you have her materialize somewhere outside the secure area of the airport, beyond passport/immigration control? Or do you really need her to be stuck there?

Orianna2000
05-19-2014, 06:11 AM
According to the initial research I did, back when I first wrote this scene, Western Union will allow you to call in and transfer money from your bank account. You pick up the cash at one of their locations, and if you don't have ID (because it was stolen, or whatever) you can give them a password that serves to identify you as the recipient of the funds. This is what I want the MC to do, since she has no ID or money with her. I tried to ask WU for more information on this process, but they ignored my emails.

It's pretty important to the story that she materializes within the secure area of the airport. She needs to be stuck for awhile. Eventually, someone will bring her a replacement passport and she'll go home. If she was able to leave the airport easily, she'd be wandering the streets of Cairo and chances of her running into the guy who's going to help her would be slim, at best. Plus, she would still be without money or identification.

thothguard51
05-19-2014, 06:33 AM
Question.... I take it she has skipped ahead or back in time to arrive at where she is at. How does she maintain a bank account that is in the future, or past?

Orianna2000
05-19-2014, 07:03 AM
Question.... I take it she has skipped ahead or back in time to arrive at where she is at. How does she maintain a bank account that is in the future, or past?

Even though she's from 700 years in the future, she was living in modern-day London. When she jumps to Cairo, only six months have passed, so her bank account is still active. She has access to it, although when she withdraws cash from it, the secret agency she works for is alerted, so they know she's returned.

Later, when she jumps 800 years into the future, she won't have any money.

Weirdmage
05-19-2014, 12:14 PM
"[...]they won't let her leave without a passport."

I am pretty sure that if you were in an area where you had to show a passport to leave, which would be arrivals, and you didn't have a passport you would be detained. Either by police or immigration. (As far as I know there is even a rule that if an airline allows anyone to fly without a passport they have to fly them back to their airport of origin at the airline's own expense.)

Orianna2000
05-19-2014, 04:58 PM
"[...]they won't let her leave without a passport."

I am pretty sure that if you were in an area where you had to show a passport to leave, which would be arrivals, and you didn't have a passport you would be detained. Either by police or immigration. (As far as I know there is even a rule that if an airline allows anyone to fly without a passport they have to fly them back to their airport of origin at the airline's own expense.)
She's in one of the international departure terminals. When I researched it last year, I was told she needed to show a passport to leave that area, due to heightened security. (It's important that she be in an area with shops, so she can replace her clothing and buy food.)

Would they detain her even if she doesn't try to leave? She knows she can't leave without a passport, so she doesn't try. Eventually, someone brings her a passport so she can get on a plane back to London.

MDSchafer
05-19-2014, 07:10 PM
Cell phones are cheap and easy to come by in Africa. I know for a fact in Kenya that you can buy a prepaid cell phone that can make international calls for cash pretty much everywhere. Those phones also work for Western Union mobile-to-mobile international money transfers.

It's not unbelievable to me that she could buy/steal a prepaid cell phone in Cairo International Airport. Go to one of the kisoks, talk them into letting activating a phone with the promise of paying them after they get the money order completed, completing the money order and then paying them for a phone along with a small bribe, because that's kinda how things work.

Orianna2000
05-19-2014, 07:34 PM
The trouble with my MC buying a prepaid cellphone is the same as buying a prepaid card--she has no money, other than a one-pound coin. She isn't dishonest (would rather starve than steal), and she isn't worldly enough to figure out how to talk or bribe someone into letting her use the phone for a money transfer. She doesn't even know how Western Union works, until she calls them. She's smart, but she's from 700 years in the future, and from an isolated religious community to boot. She's still learning our modern ways.

The answer came to me last night, while I was trying to fall asleep. Someone finishes their phone call and walks away, leaving their prepaid card behind. It has just enough funds left on it for her to call Western Union. Problem solved, hooray! :)

Now I'm intrigued by the woman who hangs up the phone and storms off, leaving her prepaid card behind. What's she doing in Cairo? Who was she talking to? Why did she get so upset? Hmmm. . . .

Bing Z
05-19-2014, 08:12 PM
Orianna, how long is she going to hang around in the departure/transit lounge?

Following the ouster of Morsi, I'd envision security in Cairo Airport to have tightened up significantly. A day, maybe she'll be okay. More than that, I'd expect the security patrols "offer some sort of assistance" to her. Actually I'd expect the same in most airports in the US except during chaotic periods due to severe weather or some special incidents.

Maybe severe weather or bombs or protests in Cairo etc have caused massive flight delays and travelers are sleeping everywhere in the lounges? Nobody will pay special attention to her. People are lining up in front of the phones and when she reaches Western Union and says she's in Cairo airport the response is a chuckle and "Lemme guess, you're stuck, yes? You need cash, yes?"

Orianna2000
05-20-2014, 12:23 AM
Orianna, how long is she going to hang around in the departure/transit lounge?

A few hours, at most. She expects it'll be longer, but she runs into someone from the secret agency she works for and they get her a new passport and a flight home.