Monday, August 16, 2010

Egged in the BUS service Egged, not what happens to your windows when you do not give candy to kids looking for it at the end of October...והמבין יבין

Over the past couple of weeks, I have found myself on an inordinate number of buses for various reasons. Sometimes it was merely a ride to the local mall (15 minutes from home) or into Yerushalayim (30 minutes..sometimes) and other times it was to go out to Or Yehuda where the offices of Tlalim are. In some cases, I was in Yerushalyim and found myself on as many as EIGHT buses in one day...not unusual at all. One very positive thing is the card known as the חופשי חודשי which is a monthly bus pass. This particular pass entitles the bearer to travel between Yerushalayim and Maale Adumim, in Maale Adumim, all over Yerushalayim and some surrounding areas--all for the one flat monthly rate. If you do a lot of bus riding it is really worth it and you get your money's worth.
So, having spent so much time on so many buses lately, I have witnessed the best and the worst in people lately. One caveat: it has been on average about 2 million degrees Centigrade (no exaggeration!) and I am sure that much of the negative actions I have been witness to have been exacerbated by the heat. However, I am not trying to make excuses but merely pointing it out.

Some miscellaneous vignettes, courtesy of Egged Bus Lines:

* You see all the time where an individual rises from his/her seat to give it to an elderly individual, a pregnant woman, etc. Usually, the exchange is followed by a simple "thank you." On a recent trip, when I noticed someone get up for another person, a very different exchange took place: Before sitting in his new-found seat, the individual placed his hands on the head of the one who just gave up his seat and gave him a bracha! And then, the one sitting in the next seat, after witnessing this, asked this gentleman for a bracha as well!

* When you get on a local bus in Yerushalayim, you are given a ticket (or must ask for one if you are using a bus card) that has a time stamped on the ticket. Ever since January 2010, a new policy--a very good policy--went into affect on Egged. Within the hour and ten minutes after boarding the bus, you may use this ticket as many times as you want on as many bus rides as you long as you are ON the bus by the designated time stamped on the ticket. Not too long ago, I was sitting at a bus stop and heard two women speaking. They were VERY aware of the fact that their tickets were over an hour "past due" but felt that they would try to use them anyways. (Yes, that IS stealing from Egged if they did so). They got on the bus and the comedy show began...instead of telling them the tickets were unusable, the driver said," There is the garbage can. Please throw your tickets in there!" He said it in a most rude and condescending way (not unusual, but it struck a nerve with this woman.) She let him have it. "WE ARE NOT RESIDENTS OF JERUSALEM! HOW ARE WE SUPPOSED TO KNOW THAT WE CAN NOT USE THESE TICKETS?!?!?" He yells back at her that one need not be a resident to be able to read a ticket and understand its validity or lack thereof. She screams at him, he screams back at her, and this continues for 10 minutes more. She DOES pay the fare but not before complaining to anyone within 5 meters who will listen to her. Recall, of course, that she was well aware BEFORE she got on the bus that she was about to try to scam the driver.

* As I mentioned, it is hot. I do not mean warm, I mean unbearbly hot at some points of the day. It is not humid for the most part where I tend to be, but DRY heat is just heat that is dry and you do not get around the idea that it is HOT! (Did I mention it has been hot!?!?) All buses have the theoretical sense. Meaning, there is a motor that blows a fan with a modicum of cold air that goes through the vents that is supposed to make one's journey on a bus, well, enjoyable. Today, I had a last minute need to run to Yerushalayim. I boarded the bus, unstuck myself from my clothes and sat down. Hmmm...a bit strange, I know it's hot outside but kind of seems like the A/C is not up to dealing with this heat. No problem, he just left the terminal 5 minutes ago, so it will cool off soon...oh you naive person! At every stop, as we took on more and more passengers, the heat on the bus became stiflingly unbearable. Imagine opening up an oven to check on something cooking and feeling that blow-back from the heat...that is what we were feeling on the bus. By the time I got off, I was physically drained and looking for a shower and oxygen. Not a pleasant journey to say the least.

* Saw something you don't see too often on the bus. While you DO see people help others off the bus all the time (carry down their groceries, a stroller, etc) you do not see the driver himself do this. (Not a slam on drivers...just that there are always people around to help). The other day, I saw the driver pull over, stop, put the bus in PARK and assist a woman down the stairs with many packages. It was so sweet to see and made up for many other drivers who could probably benefit from a Dale Carnegie course.

So, these are merely a few of the hundreds of things one can witness on a daily basis when riding on the buses here in Israel. It brings out the best and worst in people...and it is always interesting to observe!