Yielding the Road

Shmulik was on base this Shabbat. His task was rather boring, hours of guard duty. I thought of him as I stood in the synagogue and they said the prayer for the soldiers of Israel, but it was a different kind of feeling than with Elie. Shmulik’s job in the army now is, overall, safer than Elie’s was and so I am less worried most of the time and more at peace with his service.

Chaim has finished basic training and advanced, where he goes now has yet to be announced and so I am at peace there too. Overall, it’s one of those “flats of the roller coaster” time. It’s been many months since the roller coaster brought me to a rise or fall and I’m getting lulled into believing that I might get through the next few months on the same level ground.

Doubtful, but enticing.

Shmulik can come home tonight, having finished his required guarding patrols; but has to be back on base tomorrow. As with most soldiers, the chance to get home triumphs all. He wants home. Buses will take him 2 hours; the drive is 30 minutes in each direction. He asked if we could come get him. Elie and I discussed it. I was willing to go; Elie feels he knows the roads better (he does) and knows evasive driving better (yeah, that too).

Many months ago, I had hurt my arm/shoulder doing…I know not what. I had a speaking engagement in the north and the thought of driving three hours in each direction was daunting. Elie volunteered to drive me; I gratefully accepted. We took a wrong turn and were heading towards an Arab village when I realized our mistake. Elie did something with the car; I told him he was crazy and could have lost control spinning the car that way.

He smiled, said he was in control and took my teasing well – about how he was lucky the car didn’t flip, that he didn’t lose control that it has “somehow” ended up in the right direction, on the road, etc. It was only when Shmulik was transferred to be a driver and talked about learning this evasive driving that it came out that Elie was trained too…that he knew what he was doing that day when he had spun the car around. It was enlightening. It was frightening.

So Elie is driving tonight to a base that is relatively safe, but a bit tricky in a few short areas. He has no gun with him…and yet he knows the road better than I do and apparently knows how to drive in a way that is more relevant than me. It’s a strange feeling to know that I have yielded the road.

“Don’t stop if they throw rocks,” I told Elie.

He smiled that condescending smile he gives sometimes. Of course, he knows not to stop the car.

“You don’t have a gun,” I reminded him needlessly. If anything, his smile deepened. Recently, a Jewish driver in the Silwan neighborhood of our capital Jerusalem, drove his car into an ambush of Arab children with rocks and photographers waiting for the next victim. The children performed brilliantly for the photographers. They pelted the car with rocks and jumped in front of the driver.

This is the latest weapon in this war we face – the images for the world, unbothered by the reality of the setup, of the photographers/journalists who need to make a story from what doesn’t exist.

As he started to leave the house, I started to say something…before he answered, “yes, I know. Drive carefully.”

Yes…I yielded the road – he better drive carefully.

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