Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Exhaustion Jerusalem Style

It was one of those Jerusalem nights. There is such intensity here that even if one isn't in the thick of the battle, you would still end up a little loony some days.

I was on my way to a Job Fair hosted by the Merchaz in the Moshava (Center for young olim in the German Colony) and the OU (Orthodox Union). It was a dilemma to know what to wear as I have lost a lot of weight (clapping appreciated) over the past year, and ...well, my wardrobe either looks ridiculous - hanging every which way - or is very very limited in choice. Nonetheless, I finally pieced together what I thought looked not only acceptable but rather nice.

After walking to a bus line a distance away, but one that would deliver me the closest to my destination, I had to play the Waiting Game - a popular form of entertainment for bus riders (related to the game that auto drivers play of who can honk their horn the loudest or who can make the most outrageous U-turn).

Of course, once the bus came it was already packed, and "standing room only" at the beginning of the line did not bode well for the rest of the ride. In addition, I think there must have been a contest today for who could get on the bus with the largest agalah (large bag on wheels - used for buying groceries or whatever you fancy) or the most enormous backpack.

Quite frankly I had never seen such a battle for space, seats and aisle access. I was wedged into a corner in my window seat surrounded by two individuals and their enormous agalot. I was just beginning to wonder how I was ever going to get out of this spot when my stop came, when suddenly the woman facing me looked at me intently and in a very loud voice that the whole bus heard, shouted - "YOU LOOK LIKE A COMEDIENNE." A comedienne? I heard myself saying. "WELL, YOU SHOULD BE ONE!," she shouted.

Now, on a better day, I might have thought up a funny one-liner to accentuate her announcement and put everyone at ease, but somehow, tonight, already weary, I didn't feel very funny at all, nor did I find her one bit amusing. In fact, punching her crossed my mind (just kidding). I did think, "well, so much for my choice of outfits to wear tonight, I should make a good impression."

As it turned out, I got several nice compliments and, yes, some nice looks, that made me feel like I didn't look so "funny" after all. The Job Fair was very crowded, and like all Israeli gatherings, it was a bit of a balygan (chaotic, a mess). There were some interesting possibilities, but it was a long evening. Edging my way to the door and very ready to leave, I decided to stop at the table for the Merchaz; it looked like there was a drawing and some "fun" things and I thought it would be a "light" way to end the evening.

The young man at the table said "You were here before!". Well, actually, I wasn't at the table before, but at the job board behind him. "How did you remember me with so many people?" I asked him. He wasn't sure, he just had noticed me he said. (hmmm maybe I DID look like a comedienne) and then he asked if I wanted to win a prize. "Sure," I said, "but..what's the prize?" They were all different, he said, "so draw a slip and we'll find out." I stuck my hand in the box, and won!! ... a free membership to the Merchaz....actually a nice little prize.

Now, what happened next will confirm that either I was trying to enact a self - fulfilling prophecy of being a comedienne or I was totally flaked out, down right bottom line exhausted. I began to fill out the membership form so the girl next to him could make me a membership card. After writing the usual, my name, address, telephone, etc. there was a line that said: Cell number _________
I stared at it, trying to figure out what they were getting at...finally I thought, well, this IS kind of an upbeat spot, they are just trying to put a joke into the process...asking for your cell number. I even wrote "haha" on the line.

Proceeding to fill out the rest of the form, suddenly it dawned on me what they wanted...and I started to laugh, and then to really laugh, and then...of course they were all staring at me!! How could I explain that I thought they were asking for a cell number in a jail, and that it had never occurred to me that they wanted my cell PHONE number. Between fits of giggles, I muttered something about being really tired and that it was time to go home.

I'll bet they thought, "Oh great, we got a winner with THIS one!!" Now, to be honest, there IS an authentic background for why that would enter my mind instead of the more obvious cell phone. Lately, a lot of my friends and acquaintances in the national camp have found themselves arrested for no reason other than loving Eretz Yisrael, and people are always kind of "in and out" of jail. And then last week, Tamar Yonah of Arutz Sheva posted a blog about a scam being operated out of jail cells, by prison inmates. I guess the input of those two items hadn't moved out of my immediate brain waves to be stored for future use yet. .

Ah well, time to head to Tel Aviv for some beach time and head-clearing in the salty air..one has to do that periodically to be able to cope in this marvelous City.

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