During Scott’s ten days in Pakistan, things didn’t go quite as he had hoped. The gi work was tough, but the real problems found him outside of the factory, in his hotel.
(Continued from our previous article post)
To give a bit of background, before leaving on his trip, he had to sign a waiver with the CIA in order to get his visa approved. This waiver essentially laid out one simple, but important, release of liability; if he were to go missing in Pakistan, they weren’t coming to get him, he would be on his own. He signed it without giving it too much thought, and was on his way.
On the very first day of the trip, while Scott was out visiting factories, his hotel room was broken into. When he arrived back at the end of the day, he found all of his belongings splayed across the room. Whoever had been through there, had taken everything out of every bag he brought. They took his Passport out, all of his personal effects, everything. But the curious thing was that nothing was missing, the burglars had rummaged but hadn’t stolen a thing. It was clear to him that somebody wanted to find out who he was, and what he was doing in Pakistan.
Scott’s hotel was the only five-star hotel in the Sialkot region. On the fifth night of his stay, it was an important national holiday, and the hotel was packed and teeming with people. As he returned from another long day at the factories, he approached the hotel sitting in the back of a car. It was obvious that the driver, who worked for the factory he had been visiting that day, wasn’t going to get through the crowds, so Scott asked to be left within walking distance, and he’d walk the rest of the way. The driver felt that it wasn’t the best idea, and took him around to a service entrance, to avoid the crowd. As he entered the foyer of the hotel, the crowd of people went dead quiet; all eyes on him. He felt the tension in the room instantly. Having grown up in the Middle East, and having also visited remote areas of the Amazon, he’d been in many situations before where he had been the only Westerner around, garnering extra attention, but this was somehow different.
The elevator leading up to his room was glass-walled and situated in the center of the foyer. As he stepped on and ascended together with his armed guard, everyone in the foyer began gathering around the fountain and the bannisters, staring at him continuously. He felt as if they were all expecting something to happen. Trying to be cool, Scott pretended not to notice anything, but the elevator stopped on one of the first few floors and three men got on; men that gave him a strange and suspicious vibe. Once the elevator reached Scott’s floor and the doors opened, his guard stepped off and the three men closed him in. Scott was both bigger and stronger than these men, and felt relatively confident with his martial arts background, so he proceeded to calmly push his way between them and step right through and off the elevator. He caught up with his guard, who was walking in the very direction of his suite, which Scott thought was not the greatest idea, as it would clearly identify exactly where he was staying to the three suspicious men. Scott wanted to take the long way around the circular hallway so that they wouldn’t know where he was staying, but his guard walked right to Scott’s room and opened up the door for him. The guard warned him not to leave his room, as it would be very dangerous.
Not having anything to occupy himself with, and being confined to his suite for the night, he went to his window to take in the view of the city, and as he peeked out, he realized that just two floors down was an enormous balcony packed with fifty or sixty men smoking and holding guns. At the very moment that he looked down, all of the men on the balcony looked up at him in unison. He had clearly started a commotion, with people yelling and pointing up to his window. He closed the curtains in fear, and started to hear gunfire. He wasn’t sure if the shots were meant for him or if they were part of whatever celebration was happening that night. He had heard other gunfire throughout the city during the week, so perhaps it was not out of the ordinary; perhaps it wasn’t meant for him. But as he tried to convince himself that this was perhaps a normal part of the holiday, he began to hear a mob of people in the hallway just outside of his room. This was when Scott started to get really nervous.
He decided not to go look through the peep-hole of the door, because he knew that it would block out the light in the hole and give away the fact that he was standing there behind the door checking things out. So he got down on the floor to try to see and hear what was going on from underneath. At this point, Scott got up to make sure that the door itself was locked, which it was, but as he reached for the security chain, he realized that it was missing; someone had removed the chain that was there when he chained his door the night before. Things started to piece together in Scott’s mind; his cell phone wasn’t working, he couldn’t get onto the internet with his laptop, and there was a whole bunch of guys at his door causing a ruckus. He began to question whether or not he was safe.
Pushing the couch against the door as a barricade was the only thing Scott could think to do. He got down on the floor again to peep under the door, yet all of those feet were still outside, pointing in his direction. At that moment, his room phone rang. He thought help was on the way, but there was nobody on the other side of the phone. His door began to rattle, someone was trying to force their way in, so Scott had what he calls a MacGyver moment, in which he began thinking about exactly what he’d do if they made their way in. As he looked around his room, he found a fork, an aerosol can of spray deodorant, a pack of matches and the flash from his camera. He turned off all the lights in his room and patiently waited for the mystery group to enter. If they were to get in, he’d blind them with the flash, make use of his MacGyver aerosol blowtorch and burn them, and if anyone were to get too close, he’d stab them with his fork.
Scott knew that if push came to shove, he could take these guys. He wasn’t afraid of fighting anybody there, but he was scared of guns, and he was scared of getting kidnapped.
The room phone continued ringing, with only heavy breathing on the other side, and the door continued to rattle. Scott waited in fear as the attempts to open the door became more and more forceful, until at some point his exhaustion - most likely stress-induced - got the better of him and he nodded off to sleep. The commotion continued, and the men messed with Scott until sunrise, waking him up again and again from his sweaty half-sleep, never letting go of his clutch on his makeshift weapons. It was clear that someone wanted to make a point; to send him a message.
To this day, Scott has no idea what actually happened that night, but maintains that it was the most stressful experience he’s ever had.
Words by Dave Menceles
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