I could not wait for my first trip to a scientific conference, in a famous Asian location I choose not to mention. At the time, I was an experimental condensed matter physicist, but I previously worked in the field of nuclear physics with various security clearances I am still not allowed to talk about – and this much is well known: nuclear physicists traveling to this country always get a visit by their secret service, usually in the form of a very attractive lady offering “favors” for information. Already from my first day in this country I was looking forward to the visit!
Well, after 3-4 days here I was very disappointed that “the visit” did not occur. No beautiful ladies, no offers of money. Nothing. Now, although I once worked in a group of scientists who worked on nuclear weapons, but I was still hoping that this would be enough for “a visit.” No such luck.
But as un-luck would have it, my stomach was bothering me and on the fourth day of the conference I had to duck out, to sit for a while on the toilet. I should have been at the conference, but in fact I was sitting on porcelain.
As I was “worshipping the porcelain god” as it were, there was a knock on my hotel room door. I said nothing, and the door opened and a man walked in. He could not see that I was in the bathroom, and I did not say anything. He walked through my room, inspecting it – I could see him clearly – but as soon as he reached my suitcase I announced myself and startled him. He quickly left . . . but as he was walking out, I noticed his shoes: good leather shoes, with thick rubber soles. They did NOT pass at all to the dirty laborers clothes he was wearing, or other shoes I’ve seen. But he did have a room key, and if he were part of the hotel staff, he would have been dressed like the cleaning staff. (If you have ever seen laborers in Asia, then you know how it is.)
So, was he a secret agent looking for evidence to use against me? I may never know the answer to these and other questions!