Life lessons from an Israeli cab driver. Son #3 and I decided to take a cab to Rechaviah, a Jerusalem neighborhood vastly different from the one where my Son #2 and DIL #2 live. As we walk along the road to find a cab, our first three attempts are unsuccessful. We say, “Rechaviah, bevakasha” — please — and the man behind the steering wheel looks at us like we are asking to go to Mars and replies with a curt, stern “Low.” No. Thanks, dude. Cab driver #4 pulls up, we say, “Rechaviah, bevakasha?” And he says, “Ok, get in.” And off we go.
I tell him the name of the street and he makes fun of my American accent, so I repeat the name of the street in his Israeli accent, he laughs, and now we are friends. And so begins our journey.
Son #3 is much more fluent in Hebrew than I am, but I do understand more than I speak, so I am trying to follow along. The driver tells us where he is from and then he asks Son #3 how old he is. “Ben esrim v’shtaim,” Son #3 replies. 22. “Ahhh,” the cab driver begins. Now imagine this part with a thick Hebrew accent, in Hebrew. “22 years old? Live your life, man! You can do whatever you want, you can go wherever you want, you can live however you want. 22 is the best!” “Well, kind cab driver, sir, how old are you?” we gently asked. “Ehh, I am 35 years old. I got married at 25 and now all I do is work and go home. Work and go home. Work and go home.” The gestures accompanying this delightful conversation are him putting a hand noose around his neck. “Do not get married. That is the end of your life.” “Mr. Cabdriver, do you have any children?” “Of course I do! I have four children. But my life is over! Work and come home. Work and come home.”
Son #3 and I were sensing a theme here, and I was really curious about what his wife looks like or makes him do when he comes home from work so that he would rather be publicly executed than come home from work every night.
Fortunately, we arrived in Rechaviah before he could start dispensing any other important life lessons to my very impressionable 22-year-old. Poor kid. But because I felt so badly for him and his work-life balance, I tipped him way too much when I really should have been tipping his wife, helping her get either marital therapy or a really good divorce lawyer. Gotta love Israel.
The transportation around Israel is really fodder for the best stories. I had done research and hired a car service to take five adults and one baby to Tveriah the day before yom tov. It’s 500 shekels. Is it a lot? Yes, but it will, hopefully, get my family and all our luggage there safely. Well, Son #2 decides that the chasidishe car service is a better deal. Only a thousand shekels. The only caveat is that they show up with a camel and a UHaul. And since I am here to spend time with my son and DIL, I will listen to them.
Well, everyone, allow me to introduce you to Heshy, the boy wonder. Heshy managed to fit five adults, one baby, five suitcases, five carry-on bags, a garbage bag filled with diapers and diaper accessories, a garbage bag filled with snacks, because Israeli hotels don’t have tea rooms (and charge for soda, but believe me, that will be another column) all into one very small Honda Odyssey-type vehicle. Mother-in-law in the front seat, Danish and her parents in the back row, and Son #3 and me in row number 2. The ride started out a little precariously, because Heshy had his own car seat in the car and we had to return it, because we didn’t need it and it took up a lot of space.
Heshy speaks only Yiddish. My mother-in-law does not. And Heshy does not speak to mothers-in-law, so it was a pretty quiet car ride — except for the screaming I was doing every time we passed a “dangerous curves” sign. But thank God, with my Tefillat HaDerech (the traveler’s prayer) and Heshy’s fine driving skills, we made it to the hotel in one piece. Thank goodness.
And on to the next adventure — seders with the Oreos. Good times, my dear readers. Good times!
Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck is having a wonderful time in Israel. Danish is starting to cry with an Israeli accent, and Strudel loves having me feed her olives.