Sunday, February 3, 2013
Life in Israel
My younger daughter had moved to West Virginia and she was expecting a baby in early February, so I booked flights to Wheeling for the first of the month. This would be a second child and the older brother had arrived exactly on schedule—thus I felt the timing was critical. I was living in Jerusalem and it began to snow. In those days, it snowed there about every five years and this was it.
I came home from work early and rang the airport limousine service to ask if they could arrive sooner than scheduled. Because snow and Israel are not very compatible, I wanted to allow as much time as possible to reach the airport. Yes of course, we’ll fetch you in an hour. Amazingly enough, that actually happened.
As the driver approached he rang: I have to pick up a couple in the next street—shouldn’t be a problem—I’ll get you first. Fine, I said, but hurry—our street is steep. I was sure snow tires were but a rumour to him.
The limo arrived right on time, I took a back seat and we rolled over to the next street. A woman got into the car—without her husband. Oh he’s just downtown, she said, we can pick him up on the way. Downtown in a snowstorm in hilly Jerusalem? That sounds just dandy. Well, it might have been, if only the husband had stayed put! Every time we reached where he said he was—he wasn’t. Murder was contemplated, but first we had to find the putative victim.
Dusk approached and the driver was fretting. I can’t drive in the snow, he said, pushing uphill through disorganised heavy traffic and the several centimetres that had fallen. Sinking hearts—a whole panoply of clichés followed until the wife yelled: There he is! I had to stop myself from leaving the car and tackling him. The driver had a better idea—he just mounted the curb and cut off any further progress.
The errant husband entered the car with his argument fully loaded. A lengthy ‘discussion’ with his wife ensued, but not a single regret, word of apology or act of contrition—just a gust of cold air and the welcome sensation of blood pressure descending.
We made our careful way up and out of Jerusalem. After driving only a few kilometres the driver pulled the car over and stopped. I’m sorry, he said, I can’t do this. I’m afraid of the road being too slippery once we begin to descend toward Ben Gurion. Silence. Suddenly a voice called out, Anyone here speak English?
A tourist from Minnesota, sitting quietly unnoticed in the front seat, wanted to drive the limo to the airport for, as he put it, this stuff is easy where I come from. As a Canadian I agreed with his assessment, but both being North American, we worried if the driver would permit such improvisation. Todah la’el, the driver said, Thank God.
Minnesotans learn young how to deal with snow. Our new driver edged out into the road just after a bus passed, explaining that their extreme weight would melt the snow as they drove. Fitting the limo’s tires into the bus tracks, he proceeded at ease behind it, all the way down to the valley where the snow had turned to rain. Arriving quite easily on time, we caught our various flights. My first grand-daughter, Naomi, was born two days later.
Now where had the mysterious Minnesotan come from? No one had noticed him...
cross posted Geoffff's Joint