When ever you travel in and out of Romania, if you are a foreigner, the people working at the border try to get bribes from you. It just so happened that we lived in Romania at the time, but that I had been in Hungary. My purpose in Hungary was very unusual. I went there to have a baby. All of my Romanian friends had encouraged me to leave the country to have my baby if possible. At the time, the Romanian hospitals were in complete disrepair because of Communism. There was even mold growing on the walls of the hospital operating rooms. My husband had been to Budapest, Hungry to visit the missionaries, and they took him to an English speaking doctor there they liked. That doctor came to Romania to visit me. He had been touring through Romania giving medical lectures and made a detour to my house. He encouraged me to come to Hungary to have my baby too. He told me just when to come, so I went. I had had my baby, been released from the hospital, and 12 days later, I got on a train with my baby to go home to Romania.
We reserved a whole compartment just for the baby and myself so we could lay down all the way home, and my husband and older children stayed in the compartment next to me. When the porter came around, he stopped to talk to me. I explained to him that I was a professor at Lucian Blaga University in Sibiu, Romania and that I had been to Hungary to have my baby, and that I was on my way back. He didn’t speak any English. Like usual for me, the conversation was in Romanian. The doctor in Hungary even spoke to me in Romanian instead of English because he was Hungarian/Romanian, and it was easier for him. The porter was very happy to hear that I was a professor in Romania.
A little while later, another porter came by and was collecting bribes from all the passengers. I could hear him going from compartment to compartment, and people were paying bribes. When he got close to my compartment, the porter who had had a talk with me pulled him aside and forbade him from going into my compartment saying he must not try to get a bribe from me nor from my husband and children who were in the next compartment. I was grateful not to be bothered, and amazed that the porter had had mercy on me. The compassionate porter told the other that I was there to help Romania, and I should be treated well.
The porter who was collecting bribes just kept walking past my compartment and past my husband and kids’ compartment. He wasn’t done, though, because I heard him harassing someone further on down the line trying to get money out of them. They were making lots of money out of harassing travelers at the border, but they didn’t ask any from me.