A Couple Israeli Bus Driver Stories
Okay now that things are coming together – especially with the apartment (we even just got a washing machine!) I hope to once again start blogging more. So here are two wonderful Israeli Bus Driver stories that happened to me last week.
Well first of all one thing is clear: Israeli Hi-Tech is no longer “al hapanim” (face down). I had job interviews last Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and this Sunday – of course a job interview is a long way from a job but it’s a very good start and certainly if this pace keeps up I should find something nice pretty soon b’ezrat Hasham – always and only b’ezrat Hashem!
So last Thursday I’m on my way to Kfar Saba, a nice little town near Rananna and I completely blow it. I was totally confused and got off the bus at the wrong stop all the way on the wrong side of town. While I never ever take cabs when you are about to be late for a job interview it’s a good time to start. But Kfar Saba is not exactly Tel Aviv and there weren’t any cabs around. So I started walking.
I asked someone for directions and he pointed me in the right direction and told me not to worry. He was English and he said Israel is not like England where if you come late to the interview it’s all over. Here you could come an hour late and it’s no problem.
Still I ran.
Anyway I was getting a little nervous as I kept walking further and further and still haven't arrived at the intersection I needed. Then I passed a bus stop and bus pulled up. I decided this was my lucky day. I promptly hopped on the bus. The driver must have seen my face; the face of a desperate guy who is late for a job interview. I told him exactly where I need to go and asked him if this bus goes there. He told me “sure it does – it’s that corner right over there, four or five blocks down.” I reached in to my pocket to get my wallet out “Kamma zeh oleh?” (How much does this cost?) “Nah, put that away!” he said. “I’ll bring you right there.” And he did – and pointed out exactly where to go from there. I know any New York City bus driver would have charged me the full fare for that.
So I arrived at the interview – not too late. Well within the “margin of error” anyway. And the interview actually goes very well. Then I ask about what’s the best way to commute to Yerushalayim and they say “only by car and we of course give you a car.” Which is nice. But when I left the building I see a bus stop right down the block and right there in black and yellow is printed “474 – Jerusalem.” Perfect! Why did he say there was no good way to commute?
Well then I looked a little closer at the fine print on the next line “via Ariel.” Okay, so what? It’ll get me home and it’s one bus and I don’t have to shlep to Raanana or Tel Aviv first. So after a half hour the bus shows up and I get on it. “Yerushalayim?” I ask the driver for confirmation. Oh boy! I don’t know if I said something wrong but he goes off on a huge rant and I couldn’t make out much of what he said except that no one really ever takes this bus from Kfar Saba to Yerushalayim. There didn’t even seem to be a price listed for it. He sort of just made it up on the spot – “17 Shekel – how’s that?” he asked me. Wow – “a metziyah!” It cost me around 28 NIS to get there to begin with.
Folks, if you ever have a few hours to spare and would like a great cheap tour of the Shomron and Judea I highly recommend the 474. What a ride! First this bus driver was quite a character. He was talking to the passengers the whole time on just about every topic imaginable (though he seemed to enjoy ranting about “the Ashkanazim” a lot.) He also seemed to know every passenger by name. As we got to each Yishuv (we stopped at around ten of them) he called out the passengers by name to wake them up and tell them this was their stop and wish them a “Shabbat Shalom!”
At one stop he called out “Hillel, this is your stop!” An old man got up and slowly made his way down the exit door. The bus driver then got up walked around the bus to the compartment underneath the bus and pulled out a walking stick – or more specifically a blind man’s walking stick and handed it to Hillel. “You’re okay Hillel? Okay. Shabbat Shalom!”
17 Shekel and I got to see Ariel, Immanuel, Ofrah and host of smaller Yishuvim and we did eventually arrive at Jerusalem…with the bus driver wishing everyone a “Lalaya Tov, Shabbat Shalom, v’Chag Samayach!” What Chag it was I don’t know…but for some people everyday is a Chag.
17 Shekel and I got to meet the greatest bus driver and ride on the greatest bus line with the greatest passengers in the greatest country in the world!