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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Receiving an unexpected dividend from the karma bank

More and more lately I've been trying to get to and from work using a combination of tremps (hitchhiking) and public transportation.  I've been doing so partly to reduce our fuel bill (gigantic), and partly to give Zahava a little more mobility.

I genuinely enjoy my regular drive and have always liked being able to give rides to soldiers and others who need to travel the same beautiful roads that I do.  So it feels odd to suddenly find myself looking for rides instead of giving them.

The typical routine on days when I don't have the car goes something like this:

In the morning I hitchhike or get a ride from Zahava to Kiryat Arba (about 20 minutes south of us) in time to catch the 6:40 bus to Beer Sheva (another hour and a quarter ride).  In the evening I catch the bus to Kiryat Arba and then either hitchhike to the Gush or wait half an hour for the bus that passes outside our town.

Today as I left work I was exhausted and found myself at the bus stop really not looking forward to a two hour commute.  When the bus finally pulled up, I got on, went to hand the driver my fare.  But instead of taking the money and handing me back my change, the driver looked at me and asked (in Hebrew, of course) "Where are you from?"

It was an odd question considering that most bus drivers only care where you are going... not where you're from.

I answered "Efrat".

Without missing a beat, the driver smiled and said, "I thought I'd seen you in the supermarket.  I live in Efrat too.  When we get to Kiryat Arba, stay on the bus... I'll take you home". 

Many Israeli bus drivers take their buses home with them at night, so instead of having to hitchhike home or wait in the cold for a connecting bus, I was dropped at my door (or as close to it as a bus can get)!

On the ride from Kiryat Arba to Efrat, the driver and I sat together at the front of the now-empty bus and chatted about our families and who we knew in common.  By the time we entered our town he had given me his schedule and his cell phone number. 

As the bus pulled away, all I could think was that after all the rides I've given to strangers - many of whom have become friends - it felt nice to have the karma bank pay a little dividend.

Posted by David Bogner on September 23, 2009 | Permalink

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Just another one of the delightful things that make up Israel. It brings to mind the random taxi driver that came to my apartment for dinner one evening after a long conversation in his taxi.

Posted by: Mark | Sep 23, 2009 10:23:41 PM

Smile.

Posted by: Noa | Sep 23, 2009 10:29:35 PM

As someone who once had a nearly-2-hour commute, I appreciate how ABSOLUTELY AWESOME this is! Whoo hoo! His schedule and cell phone number! You go!!!!

Posted by: Sarah | Sep 23, 2009 11:07:05 PM

So nice! I <3 Israel :)
Gmar Chatima Tova!

Posted by: SaraK | Sep 23, 2009 11:35:17 PM

That's awesome.

Posted by: mekubal | Sep 23, 2009 11:51:02 PM

Gotta love Israel - that is a perfect example of why I love that country!

Posted by: Leah Weiss Caruso | Sep 24, 2009 12:25:17 AM

That is AWESOME!! Ah--totally great. :)

Posted by: uberimmau | Sep 24, 2009 4:54:24 AM

Great story! now you have no excuse when Zahava tells you to take the bus to work. What time does he start work in the morning? can you make it a round-trip door to door?

Posted by: David S. | Sep 24, 2009 5:12:00 AM

Nice.

Posted by: Val | Sep 24, 2009 6:25:41 AM

Great story, David! What goes around comes around.

Posted by: Debbie | Sep 24, 2009 6:30:47 AM

Great, yet another reason to kick myself for not staying in Israel... keep up the great work!

Posted by: Seth | Sep 24, 2009 6:58:31 AM

great story. I love Israel! (and your blog!)

Posted by: devonshire | Sep 24, 2009 9:20:22 AM

This is great in many respects.

Posted by: Ilana-Davita | Sep 24, 2009 9:22:41 AM

Could you please define "wait in the cold"? :-)

Posted by: Marsha in Englewood | Sep 24, 2009 2:49:31 PM

the only thing missing was a buddy cd

Posted by: roberti | Sep 24, 2009 4:51:45 PM

Was it Reuven?

Posted by: Andy | Sep 24, 2009 5:53:38 PM

You should explore car pooling or see if more local people could use the same bus. Guess you need some space to park a bus at home.

Posted by: ED | Sep 24, 2009 5:59:55 PM

Reminds me of the time I was getting the bus back from Beer Sheva to the kibbutz (the one that went through all the moshavim) and the driver made an unschedled stop to collect a bunch of stuff off the side of the road for one of the moshav residents - certainly not something you'd see in the UK!

Posted by: Kath Vardi | Sep 24, 2009 9:09:58 PM

That's wonderful. A perfect example of why I love living in Israel. You should wish your bus driver friend a shana tova and ktiva v'chatima tova from all your Treppenwitz readers, too!

Posted by: Idit | Sep 24, 2009 11:07:53 PM

What a wonderful story! Reminds me of the time when my daughter used to live in Kiryat Shmona. Her car broke down and was in the garage in Petach Tikva where I live, but she had mistakenly taken the car keys back with her to K. Shmona. A friendly bus driver brought the keys down to PT with him and I met him at the central bus station where he handed me the keys.

And the time when my soldier son left his tefillin on the bus, and after calling the bus company and getting the bus driver's number, the driver personally "babysat" the tefillin until we could get to the bus depot to pick them up.

Ain't this a great country? :-)

Posted by: annie | Sep 24, 2009 11:12:28 PM

Your dividend may have been unexpected, but it is very much well-deserved! (After all -- you're a giver.)

Drew

Posted by: Drew | Sep 25, 2009 1:47:46 AM

Nice!

You guys gonna come to the picnic on succot??

Posted by: Rivka with a capital | Sep 27, 2009 12:00:28 AM

Someone should write a book on Israeli bus driver stories. Israeli bus drivers are like nobody else in the world.

My favourite story is about the kid ("kid" as in probably 20-something) who was taking a bus to a connecting bus for Shabbat. He had cut it to the wire, and was worried about missing his connection, the last for the day. The first bus driver yelled at him the whole way about needing to plan better, not waiting til the last minute, etc., etc. The kid did, indeed, miss his connecting bus, and the first bus driver proceeded to invite the kid he had just yelled at for an hour and whatever, to his home for Shabbat.

Awesome that you made this connection. Work is hard enough without doubling your commuting time.

Posted by: Alissa | Sep 27, 2009 1:26:05 AM

Hatima Tova, David.

I'm missing my favourite post ( alone with the dishes )...

Posted by: Jany | Sep 29, 2009 11:59:59 AM

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