Thursday, May 08, 2008

Jeursalem bus story

I got on the number 8 bus near outside the Shuk, the fruit and veg market, opposite the Ottoman municipal hospital. As I sat down I was struck by the shouting of the woman behind me, talking on her mobile phone.

"She's crazy I tell that woman, just nuts, absolutely insane. She said that about me? Her brain is scratched. Wo-w0-wo-wo-wo, if I meet her in the street, I don't evny her, what I'm going to do to her, she won't like it, wait a minute, Driver, Driver, that's Shlomi, my neighbour, open the door."

The bus was standing at the red traffic lights, a chubby 15-year old with braces knocked sheepishly on the bus doors. "Driver, driver, open the door, it's Shlomi, he works in the Civil Guard, he checks busses for suicide bombers, open the door for him". The driver hesitated for a minute and then opened the doors. Little Shlomi really didn't look like a security expert and I wondered if the woman was making it up. She continued on the phone:

"Yes in the shuk, I bought meat, and parsley, and the new garlic with the red skin, and pittas, gonna make kebabs for tomorrow. Independence Day right? And that lemon cake. What do you mean you don't know it?" She raised her voice even more. "You're not normal, you. Never made it? you're not normal. It's easy and cheap to make."

" Wo-wo-wo, that woman" she returned to her nemesis "that piece of rubbish, to speak of me like that, if I see her in the street, I'm just going to ignore her, yes, not say hello even. No, better, I'm going to call her what she is, ungrateful, that dry-eggplant-face. I walked in the snow to buy cigarettes for her. Ungrateful." Suddenly there was a strange silence. It seemed the conversation was cut off. She looked back and called for Shlomi to come and sit by her.

"Shlomi, how are you doing, you see he opened the doors for you, I told him to open the doors for you, I told him you work in the Civil Guard, that you are checking busses, he opened the door because I told him".
I'm not doing that anymore, said Shlomi, now I'm guarding the entertainment events for Independence Day. Many events tonight, and yesterday I was guarding the Foreign Office event".

I started to see little Shlomi with new eyes. Who knows if Israel would have reached 60 if not for him.

"How much do they pay you?" she asked.
"I volunteer, I don't get paid".
What do you mean? That's bad, bad, Shlomi, you have to work for money, volunteering is nonsense".
But the Civil Guard are all volunteers, he said, almost apologizing.
"Rubbish!" she exclaimed. "Oh, a blind man, a blind man! He is boarding the bus, Shlomi, quick we have to give him our seat" and they both disappeared.

Also boarding the bus was a big woman who sat opposite me, and for the rest of the trip I could smell very strongly the odours of a dead chicken from her plastic bag.


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