|Multiply this little group and all their luggage by eight; pack them into the smoke-filled parking garage of the bus station; and you'll have an idea of Sunday bus travel in Jerusalem.|
In America, soldiers rarely traveled on public transportation en masse. That's what troop transports are for. In Israel -- for reasons of economy, I presume -- there are not enough such vehicles available. Instead, soldiers travel free (when in uniform) on regular city and intercity buses. For reasons I cannot fathom, increased troop movement does not consistently mean increased transportation. The word balagan was surely invented for what happens at the bus platform on days like this.
Today, the Dearly Beloved and I had a lovely morning in Jerusalem. We waited until the 13:45 bus (a quarter to two, for those of you still operating on US time), sure that by early afternoon, soldiers would mostly be back on base.
As we approached our bus platform, we saw -- conservatively -- eighty soldiers waiting outside and inside. Soldiers in Israel don't wait like American soldiers, in a tightly regimented file. They wait like Israelis. Imagine puppies surrounding one mother dog, gazing balefully Heavenward as she tries to understand why the good Lord gave her nine puppies and an insufficient number of spigots. The only people who understand the concept of waiting in line in Israel are olim chadashim. And they do NOT get on the bus.
|"If we stand in line, you can and I can [accomplish whatever]." Nice sign. NOT an Israeli concept.|
Now, I know this will be hard for people who don't experience it regularly to believe, but somehow, this is all done with much laughing and good-natured yelling. Shortly after closing the door (and sharing a few communicative hand signals with the soldiers who were banging on said door), the bus driver pulled out, making a call on his cell phone to the dispatcher to request more transportation for the remaining soldiers, and to explain why he wouldn't be stopping at his next regular stops.
|One of the many Sabra (aka "prickly on the outside, sweet on the inside") bus drivers we have encountered in Israel.|
|Sign on the back of the bus: "I drive carefully. What's your opinion?" In my opinion? These guys are heroes.|
Traveling in our own country with our own family sometimes takes a little getting used to. But it's never boring, and it almost always reminds us of how very fortunate we are to be part of this slightly crazy people.
Balagan: chaos, utter confusion
Olim chadashim: new immigrants
Sardinage: a self-explanatory Ruti word, which I like almost as much as "techneptitude"