by David Levy
“Oh my, isn’t that bizarre,” Dorit gasped into the phone. “Thank you so much for calling me.” A friend in the media had just told her that there was an imminent terror threat in central Jerusalem: a suicide bomber was loose in the area, the same location as the Jewish Agency office in which we were at that moment meeting. Now I faced an impossible decision: do I stay in the office for an indeterminate time until the bomber is caught and/or explodes, or do I brave the streets? Looking around at the empty office, flourescent tubes pulsating above, the answer was clear- I was out of there. Besides, as every post 9-11 American knows, if you change your actions because of terrorists, they win.
After telling me she would feel pretty bad if I was blown up, Dorit and I decided that my best option was to make for the Tel Aviv-bound taxi service vans across from Zion Square. We reasoned that the vans there were too small to be an attractive target, and I figured I’d be out of the blast radius if the terrorist decided to blow up in the square. We ruled out the option of going to the central bus station, where I’d arrived in Jerusalem that morning, because it made the most obvious target. Besides, I could only get there by bus.
As I left the building, the security guard cautioned me to be extra vigilant. I assured him that I would, but then I immediately began to think: What the hell does that mean anyway? I looked around the street. Nobody seemed vigilant to me. They weren’t even looking around. I inspected the crowd. I didn’t notice any wires hanging from beneath winter jackets, which served to comfort my anxieties a bit. Anyway, I was certainly the only one on the street checking people for wires, so I figured my extra-vigilant requirement had been satisfied, and I continued my walk with renewed confidence.
I stopped in my tracks. About half way to Zion Square, I saw a crowd of people forming on the street. I caught a glimpse of police tape, ambulances and police cars obscuring the crowds’ path. This was it. Some terrorist just blew up a bunch of people. God no! I thought. I don’t want to see this, I don’t want to see this, I don’t want to see this… Please. But oh! Happy days!! It was just some guy threatening to throw himself from a third story window. Onwards I marched, laughing at my paranoia.
The incident got me thinking. I really was just being paranoid. Nobody else seemed concerned, why should I be? Suddenly the nagging thought that had been in the back of my mind since I left the office rushed to the fore: I had bought a round-trip ticket in Tel Aviv, and if I didn’t return from Jerusalem’s central station, I would be throwing away 15 shekels. Plus, I would have to pay an additional 20 shekels for the service taxi. Subtract the five shekels for a bus to the station, and that was 30 shekels wasted. If in the end nothing happened I would never be able to forgive myself.
I hopped on the 14 bus to the central station, warily scanning the crowd for shady characters wearing unseasonable coats. After ascertaining that the coast was clear, I made my way to the relatively empty back of the bus, reasoning that I would only be severely wounded rather than killed if a terror attack occurred. After relaxing in my seat, I suddenly cursed myself for granting the terrorists a minor victory. Why should I change my seating habits for them? I got up, pretending that there was no imminent terror warning, and determined that, in such a situation, I probably would have sat in the same seat. So I sat back down. Take that, Zakaria Zubeida!
Anyway, I made it to the central station unscathed, and am now sitting in ridiculous amounts of traffic on Highway 1 out of Jerusalem. I saved myself 30 shekels; I would indeed have killed myself had I taken a service taxi. Seems the terrorist beat me out of the city, where he promptly was caught by security forces on Highway 1, causing me this major inconvenience. At least I got an article out of it, which brings me the my most difficult decision of my day: Do I print this, knowing with what horror it will be received by my mother, or do I throw it away? I reject prior restraint as a matter of principle. Sorry, Mom.
March 22, 2006 at 12:46 pm
Thank God would have been a better close. “knowing with what horror it will be received by my mother, sorry Mom” David, David David. Hugs & kisses to Mom, she didn’t raise no momma’s boy!
March 22, 2006 at 9:25 pm
Stay strong, baby.
March 24, 2006 at 3:25 pm
“…which brings me to my most difficult decision of my day: Do I print this, knowing with what horror it will be received by my mother…”
You should only ever have decisions that attain this level of difficulty… Nicely written, glad you ‘re still in one piece *esteemed colleague*.. 😉