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Monday, November 16, 2009

A Bus Driver in Israel

The other week we went to a wedding in Kiryat Arba, it was a first for us as we’d never been there before.
As we boarded the bus at the Central Bus Station in Jerusalem, the driver waved aside our proffered money. “ Sit down, sit down, don’t worry you can pay me later. Let’s get everyone on board quickly and be on our way. Come on everyone hurry up. Don’t you all want to get home, What about your families. It’s been a long day. Let’s go” and with that he closed the doors and wove his way out between the other buses.

One man stood by the driver determined to pay him before sitting down. He held out the money for a ticket and the driver looked at him askance. “ Ma Pitom. You’re not going to pay for a single ticket it’s a waste of money. You travel with me every day – buy a kartisiah ( a multiple-use ticket ). It works out much cheaper.”
I didn’t hear the full exchange that followed but the driver seemed to have won the argument, as I saw the man dig into his pocket and pull out some more money.
My husband went to pay and asked the driver to let us know when we got to the Hesder yeshiva where the wedding was taking place.
“ Sure. Relax, have a sleep. We have another hour and don’t worry I’ll wake you when we get there.”

On the outskirts of Jerusalem, an English speaking group got on and asked for tickets to Me’arat HaMachpela, the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hevron. The driver told them a price and added “ That’s a return ticket. It’s cheaper to buy a return than pay twice”
“But we’re not coming back. We only want one-way” they insisted.
“ How can you stay at the Cave. You have to come back”
“ We’re meeting someone and we’ll be getting a ride back”

When the driver was satisfied that they would not be stuck in Hevron, he ‘agreed’ to let them buy a one way ticket.

A little further outside Jerusalem an elderly lady laden with bags of shopping got on.
“Oh Rabbanit – what a pleasure to have you travel with me. How are you? How is ‘kvod HaRav’ our revered Rabbi ? I had your son travel with me the other day- what a pleasure it was.”
The rabbanit answered his questions about the family and was about to move down the bus to find a seat when the driver motioned to the girl sitting in the front seat. “Move your bag. Let the rabbanit sit there. It’s an honor for you to sit next to her”

Suddenly a bottle of water that had fallen on the floor crashed in to the side of the seats.
The driver shouted out “ Rabbotei, please will someone pick up that bottle. Every time it bangs against the side I think we’ve been hit by a stone”.
It was the only reminder that not every journey in this area is as incident-free as this one.

We entered Kiyat Arba and wound our way around the town stopping where the passengers wanted to get off, and not simply at bus stops. As we neared the yeshiva the driver called out to us that it was time to get off. “Who’s getting married?” he asked us.
We told him. “Oh great, I’m so pleased that’s wonderful. Wish them Mazel Tov . Have a great time”
We got off and even after 26 years here we couldn’t help smiling.
Bus drivers like that, you just don’t get outside Israel.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think I know exactly the driver you mean. Nice blog. Keep it up. Baby's crying, must go. tata.