Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

17 Elul 5765 - September 21, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family

by Fruma Grossman

Coming on aliyah really stretched my imagination as to how I could live without a car. Yet a quick and simple calculation was enough to indicate that owning a car here meant working one day a week, just for that! No way! I wanted a simpler life here, a more spiritual way of life. Yet . . . I kept remembering infrequent buses in Canada, the high bus fares, and often the unreliability of schedules. In addition, I had heard all those jokes and stories about hair-raising bus rides and those drivers! I was certainly prepared for anything but the transportation reality of Eretz Yisroel!

Bus drivers are fascinating! Here they must maneuver these huge vehicles while giving change, remembering to tell a passenger who inquired about his stop, be good-humored, patient and pleasant. Most of them have amazing midos! They can be warm, friendly, and very helpful, or brusque and non-communicative. One day, I had a driver par excellence. A boy of about five years of age was on the bus and he seemed to know where to get off. However, when it was time, the driver told the boy to wait a minute while he got off with him and took him across the street. We all waited and nobody minded!

Usually, before the door is shut, the buses are off and running. Not only do they fit into the tiniest of road spaces, which I would never dare drive a car through, but they also speed along as quickly as the traffic allows. "Fast" often takes on new meaning during a routine bus ride! This speed can include zipping around corners. So just try to imagine the person standing on the bus! A very exciting ride each time!

However, one time a man got on the bus, loaded down with a baby and stroller and parcels, and the driver told him to find a seat and sit down. Later, someone came up front to pay the driver for him. Very often, when someone is laden down with various children and parcels, they go straight to a seat and pay when convenient. Never does the driver ask such people for the fare. When an inspector arrives, everyone has paid. Imagine!

Bus drivers here have not yet heard that what they should be doing exclusively is driving the bus, like in Canada. Here they give out several kinds of tickets, give change, and drive through incredibly narrow ways. They are usually in the best of humor, with time for comments to passengers and out the window to other drivers or friends. They may even make change with a bus driver coming from the opposite direction — through their respective windows!

We now have the honor system here on buses going through religious neighborhoods. We each punch our own bus card. And it works! This was unheard of in Canada! In fact, all the extras were unheard of there.

Once, I was making my way gingerly through the Ramot neighborhood. My sense of direction being vague, I was hoping not to get lost this time. As I was searching for the bus stop, my bus approached. It was clear that I would not make it to the stop on time, and would, therefore, be late for work. I put my head in my hands and stared with consternation at the bus. The driver took pity on me, stopped the bus in the middle of the street and let me get on. Imagine!

Bus drivers are often given bad press. Yet in my years here, I have seen much more caring in drivers than the other side. They often stop between bus stations to allow passegers on, or stop on the road to help. There was the time our bus stopped and the driver told a pedestrian to go help a little girl pushing her sister in a stroller which had overturned.

Their good humor usually remains in place in many trying circumstances. Today we witnessed such a situation. We were returning from the Kosel, but for some reason, many streets were closed off. Our bus, as well as many others, could not travel its usual route, and we were in the bus for more than an hour before coming even close to home. Several complaints were directed at the driver — I haven't figured that one out yet — but he patiently fielded them and offered practical suggestions. He finally did lose his cool, slightly, when one vociferous, complaining, very hostile woman was getting on again for the third time! But he still passed this test with flying colors!

Often a Torah tape can be heard, even though the driver is not religious!

Their driving record must be tops, since it is rare to hear of an accident. Only once was there an infraction on my bus when the driver ran a red light, and was immediately ticketed!

Boruch Hashem for the fine bus system and its drivers who make not owning a car feasible and even pleasurable! Sometimes it is even more than a question of arriving safely, such as when I can say all my Tehillim on my way; my not having to deal with parking; nor my having to deal with the road conditions and the other drivers. I can arrive at my destination more relaxed and ready. Even my usual impatience while waiting is minor in comparison to the benefits.


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