The last time he was home, Elie told me what I already knew. He has inherited his father’s mechanical ability to understand…well, all things mechanical. Give my husband something and he can fix it. A car, a computer, a VCR, the refrigerator, a piece of furniture, a bracelet. It doesn’t matter what – give him the time and the tools and he’ll figure it out.
Elie is much the same. For years already, the two of them have taken care of our family cars when mechanic after mechanic has butchered those poor helpless vehicular devices. When the local mechanic “forgot” to put the bolts back onto the timing belt…which then just happened to slip into the engine of the car I was driving…which just happened to blow the engine while the car was traveling at 90 km. per hour (no, that “click” didn’t sound quite right), it was Elie and his father who rebuilt the engine and got the car back to its old self.
Elie’s mechanical abilities have blossomed in the army, where others around him quickly understand that he understands. “Ask Elie what needs to be fixed,” his commanding officer tells the soldier, “and then go report it to the supply captain.”
So the soldier went to Elie and asked him to give him a report on the problems of the nagmash (the Armored Personnel Carrier) that Elie now has a license to drive. Elie quickly gave him a list of things that had to be fixed, including the fact that the signals didn’t work.
The soldier dutifully went over to the supply captain – or however that Hebrew term translates – to the person responsible for getting the nagmash fixed. The soldier carefully listed all the things that Elie said, and mentioned the signals too. When the captain asked, “Did Elie tell you the signals don’t work?” the soldier believed in giving credit where credit was due – and told him honestly that Elie had indeed said that the signals were not working.
The captain then started laughing and it took the soldier a moment to consider. “There are no signals on a nagmash, are there?” he asked the captain.
“No,” replied the captain with a smile.
Elie laughed when he told me this story and I laugh as I heard it and as I write it now. And if my eyes fill just a little, it is out of happiness and gratitude that he has found a place where he can show not only his talents, but that sense of humor I have always loved.
No – armored personnel carriers don’t have signals, but in a world that never has enough smiles, hopefully Elie’s joke will make others smile too.