Back in the late 1980's, before the Gulf War and the associated ill will, I was in Bahrain with the U.S. Navy. Our ship was tied up to a pier, which was unusual; normally they had you anchor offshore then ferried you in. On the pier was a sorry-looking shack made of mostly tin. In this fine establishment was a gentleman who ran a convenience store. You could buy soda, candy, snacks, even novelties and tee shirts.

The only problem with this person was that he absolutely hated Americans. If you dared to enter the shack, you were cursed at in Arabic (one of the officers on my detachment spoke the language). He glared at you as you went shopping, and if you touched something (like reading a wrapper), he would remove it from the shelf and keep it by the front counter to sell to impulse-buying Americans. He had a captive clientele of 300 sailors who all strolled in daily to buy overpriced snacks.

Now I have no problem with this person hating Americans, it was his country, his store on his pier. He had the right to hate anyone at anytime.

I went in one day wearing civilian clothes to buy some junk food and souveniers. We were leaving the dock that day for another two week fun tour of the Gulf. Before I went in, I started shouting in a (cheesy) British accent to my non-existant friend, "Cheerio!" When I entered the store, he thought I was British, and he was very polite. The prices were 20% cheaper, and when I looked at some candy at the front counter he stopped me so he could get me a fresh "untouched by Americans" package. I ended up buying two cases of Pepsi in tin 10-ounce cans, boxes of junk food and a shirt with a large Union Jack.


Another store in Bahrain, in the Suk mall area, had cheated a few of my friends. My pals bought a few rolls of 35mm film, but there was no film in the canister. They were overcharged as well. I used the British character again, and I brought the film back to the store. The store owner was extremely apologetic (he had refused to even talk to the Americans). He blamed the error on his assistant and gave me fresh rolls of film. I didn't care about the overcharging, I was just trying to get the film my pals purchased. I used Wally Bingo (the name I gave the character) whenever we needed something from folks who hated Americans.