Monday, June 20, 2011

When you believe

The thing about Shabbat in Israel is that public transport doesn't run at all.  And to take it one step further, you'll be hard pressed to find taxis as well - at least in the Jerusalem area.

Saturday morning we had a scheduled tour (my mother is a tour fiend) to Nazareth and Galilee.  We were requested to meet at a hotel near the old town city center, a 10 minute drive away from where we were staying, at exactly 5:50am for pick-up.

The lack of taxi abundance on Shabbat worried my mother to the point of stopping every taxi driver we saw on Friday and requesting if they could pick us up. Hardly any of them were Arab or Armenian Christian, the only two types of people who do drive Saturdays, and those who were didn't work the early morning shift.

The evening wore on and just as we were at the brinks of despair, we walked into a shop to placate the emotion with chocolate and happened to speak to an employee who was able to help us. He called his cousin who was willing to pick us up at 5:30 from our apartment.

At 5:30 the following morning we were waiting outside the apartment for our ride.  There was no car in sight.  A few minutes passed before I decided to call the drivers number, which his cousin the shop employee gave us.  The phone rang and rang, but finally the call was answered by a groggy hello. He said he was on his way and he would pick us up in ten minutes time. I wasn't happy...  and I may have done too good of a job expressing it as well.  I told him we would wait down by the main road, since we would only have five minutes to reach our destination from the moment he stated he would arrive. Plus, I figured we could catch another taxi if another one came by sooner.

In the end, he never showed up.

Even the main road was empty.  At 5:40am we had only seen one car drive by.  I was getting nervous. When we saw our first taxi at 5:42 I tried flagging it down, but since it was going in the opposite direction I never made it to the median in time for it to see me.

As the minutes passed by, so did a few more taxis.  Only one of them acknowledging me as I tried to get their attention.  But as he was also going in the opposite direction with passengers, he only motioned that he was sorry.

When the clock hit 5:50 we weren't any closer to reaching the pick-up point as we had been 20 minutes prior. At that moment I felt any attempt to continue onward would be futile, but we started walking anyway and my frustration towards our no-show taxi driver mounted.

Three minutes later a miracle occurred. The one driver who actually acknowledged me and my frantically flailing arms with an apologetic shrug pulled up beside us.  He had dropped off his previous passengers and turned around to see if we still needed a ride.

We hopped in and he sped off (like all Israli taxi drivers do). I watched as the minutes went by on the clock:  5:59... 6:00... 6:01. After each passing minute I made a comment expressing my doubt and discouragement of our likely vain attempt.

But I should have known that in a land of miracles the miracle of miracles would occur. As we sped forward towards our destination point, we rounded the curve to see a bus, our bus, starting to leave without us. Our driver honked, the bus stopped, I jumped out of the taxi to reach the bus driver and confirm our spots... just in time.

Once my mom and I were comfortably seated and the bus started moving, I was again flailing my arm to our taxi driver... but this time to thank him. He returned the gesture by doing the same.

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