Gym rats are scrambling to make do as gyms across the country have closed their doors in a solidified effort to curb the spread of the virus.
"Fitness enthusiast" and Redditor "veggieboy94" was intent on not letting the pandemic compromise his gains from all of those rigorous workouts up until the lockdown.
"So i'm into fitness and i had the bright idea of trying to workout in a weighted vest, i knew gyms would close near me so i thought i shouldn't suffer and lose my gains and can probably still have a nice workout with it."
"Looked online in my country but couldn't find one that is affordable, i'm not gonna spend 200 bucks on a vest. I thought to myself that i could easily make one, or have be made for me in this case."
"I went to a scrap yard and bought a few steel plates and then went to a tailor and asked him to make me a custom made vest."
When the tailor asked his intentions for the vest, the OP gave him an explanation and gave measurements and specific instructions to have pockets to allow the insertion of steel plates.
"He took the measurement and i could see his face went from a smile to a neutral face once i was done explaining how it should look."
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"I didn't think anything of it and he said he'd call me on my phone when it's done, that it would only take a couple of days."
When the vest was ready for pickup a few days later, the tailor instructed the OP to come to the store.
But once he arrived, he discovered the transaction was not a done deal.
"i came and there was a man there with him. He looked pretty serious and started asking me questions, i asked him why he was asking and he said that it's in my best interest to just answer, that he worked for the authorities."
"I almost pissed my pants because i instantly thought to myself 'f'k, it must be the vest and it looks pretty suspicious for a bearded young dude to ask for a vest with multiple pockets.'"
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This is what the not-a-terrorist vest looked like.
"I was panicking like crazy and told what was the purpose behind it, i think that he didn't believe me and he asked me to show him those plates, i had a picture of them and showed him."
It was time for dad to come to the rescue.
"At this point i had the idea of calling my father since he was in the military."
"He came and was telling him that i am a fitness enthusiast and that i work out everyday. He told me then to go home and stay there until he came home."
His father came home a few hours later and explained to the anxious OP what the mysterious man had suspected, and it led to an impromptu makeover.
"The person was secret police ... he suspected me being radicalized by some muslim extremists because they have made several arrests near our area of some radicals."
"Apparently the long beard didn't help since people my age don't like long beards and only very religious people do."
"It's a Muslim majority country. I immediately went to the bathroom and shaved it and it's pretty safe to say that i won't be growing it anytime soon."
Later in the comments, the OP specified the misshap took place in Morocco—where the number of confirmed cases of the virus reached 225 as of March 25, 2020.
The country announced a state of medical emergency on March 19 to take effect the next day at 6:00 p.m. and prohibited citizens from leaving their homes without special permission from local authorities.
Public gathering places such as restaurants, movie theaters, hammams (public baths) and gyms remain closed until further notice.
When all was said and done,our clean-shaven OP was able to resume with his fitness regimen.
"Oh and also, i did get the vest in the end. I was working out in it yesterday and remembered the story, which is why i thought of posting it here today."
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The anxiety was all too familiar for this guy.
"I feel your pain...when my passport photos was taken I was growing out my beard to see how long I could go...so now when I fly I always get double swabbed for explosives while my wife and kids pass right through...lol" – SquareSniper
Unfortunately, the OP just fit the part of someone who looked suspicious.
"Though I can agree on the logical front of 'this area has had several arrests so let's check this one out.'"
"Though still, people shouldn't be profiled based on looks alone."
"However a person looking very different (major haircut or shaven beard) from their ID/passport photo is grounds for authorities to check you. People often do that to evade police." – Akitiki
"In this case a tailored vest with pockets and steel plates probably had more to do with it than the beard, that was just icing." – Shamhammer
This Redditor shared an interesting observation on arrests determined by notorious regions.
"What you're describing is actually quite the vicious cycle. More arrests in certain areas isn't just decided by more crime, rather by more detected and reported crime."
"You're letting more arrests lead to more police, but more police also leads to more arrests."
"Say you have a city with institutionalized racism dating from the 60s-70s, where police were much more likely to hang about (and detect crime) in black areas."
"That historical data is used in the nineties to put more police there, because there seems to be more crime. Higher police numbers means higher detected crime, which leads to more policing effort being allocated there now."
"Tldr a lot of the area-based policing efforts today are actually racist because of the data their models use." – Chevrotte
The OP, however, disagreed and offered his take on the presumptive discriminatory policing method.
"Although i agree with everything you just said here, i don't think this applies here."
"For one, people here are one race. The discrimination would have to happen country wide not just per area so it's logical to follow people with high risk to commit crimes."
"Another thing is that my situation was particularly unique. I wouldn't be getting pulled over just for my beard, but if it's combined with multiple risky behaviors then that's good grounds of investigating the situation."
"Also, we here have a pretty unorthodox way of policing people. So every block has some sort of authority figure that handles that specific block, they are usually people who have a lot of human contact, like a store owner or an imam/priest."
"Their job is to just report back to the real authorities with either regular updates or if they suspect someone. So we don't really rely on self reporting to the police, but more of a proactive approach to crime rather than a reactive one."
We all do our part for the protection of all civilians, particularly as travelers.
"I always, always get my bag pulled at the airport to be checked. It's not that big a deal cause it's their job and I know what I have is not in violation (what I have looks similar to plastic explosive under x-ray)."
"Because without it, there could be that one person hiding a weapon or something. There hasn't been since 03, but guard cannot be let down either." – Akitiki
The OP responded:
"Exactly, i don't mind being profiled if you get to protect the country. The only i would mind is doing it in a degrading way, i keep hearing many horror stories from airports and this is just sad."
This may have been less suspicious.
"Maybe if you had asked to have it made in neon yellow, it would have been less suspicious?" – Tinatworinker
But the OP explained that his color options were limited.
"The only fabric he had at that time was a black and a dark blue one."
"I don't think it was an option and i didn't even think it was that big of a deal until the f'k up happened."
As far as the missing beard goes, it may be making a comeback.
When one Redditor quipped that the authorities were "just jealous of our beards" and encouraged the OP to "keep it long," he replied:
"Lol once the trauma is gone i'll reconsider my position."