For the last few years, traffic going into Jerusalem has been congested. Some mornings are tolerable; others a nightmare of delays and slowly crawling cars approaching the checkpoint and either passing through to another slowly crawling line of cars or maybe, just maybe, actually moving a bit faster. The roads division decided to add a lane – perhaps spreading the cars over three lanes instead of two might help…which might work of there wasn’t also a bottleneck on the other side of the checkpoint, but never mind.
It was a step in the right direction, so for the last few months, we have watched the road slowly be widened until this morning when the lane was free and clear of all obstacles and three lanes of traffic now crawled up. The third lane was quickly labeled for public transportation – which is defined as buses, cars carrying three or more passengers and cabs. Why cabs? No idea, but there you go.
This morning, Shmulik had to meet S. (his commanding officer) at the top of our road. As we were climbing slowly behind a bus, S. called and asked where Shmulik was. S. was worried about the traffic. He told Shmulik to meet him at the front of the city because he had to drop one of his daughters at her nursery school. If Shmulik got there in time, no problem. If not, Shmulik would have to catch a bus to the base. S. didn’t want to get stuck.
Reasonable, said Shmulik, who understood the he was a few minutes late. We arrived in time; Shmulik transferred to the other car while I pulled out ahead. I drove down the side of the mountain; Shmulik and S. somewhere behind me.
I curved along the exit, joining the highway up to Jerualem. About half way up, I met the traffic and slowed. Soon, I noticed Shmulik and S. zoom past me in the fast lane.
I called Shmulik on the phone (S. was driving so there was no problem with Shmulik answering, and I was using a car speaker phone). When Shmulik answered, I said, “It isn’t fair.”
“We’re allowed,” Shmulik answered. Being in the army gives S. many advantages, and zooming along a road at whatever speed he needs to go is one of them.
“Ask S. if I’m allowed to use the lane ’cause I’m a soldier’s mother?”
Shmulik laughed and I heard him ask, “My mother wants to know if she can go in this lane too, because she’s a soldier’s mother?” I could hear S. laugh in the background as Shmulik answered, “No.”
No matter – the sound of their laughter has carried me through the day.