Driving in Israel meets the belly card.

Driving to gan pickup last week, I officially became that person. The person who looks down for a split second and looks back up to realize you’re a microsecond from hitting the stopped car in front of you. The person who, despite braking, hits the car in front of you.

I’ve been here nearly nine years and pride myself on two driving-related things: never getting a speeding ticket and never hitting anyone. Driving in Israel has definitely worked to repair my former young, stupid, New York driver self. Not that I’m by any means perfect but I’d say the improvement is noticeable to me.

Anyway, I’m copping to this: I hit the back of this car. It wasn’t major by any means, it was a residential road to start with, but it shook me up. I stopped, got out, and watched the older crew-cut-clad, Israeli-dye job woman driver come out, all puffed up and ready to attack.

I guess I attacked first. “Are you ok? I’m so sorry!” I said, with the requisite body language to back up my claim.

I watched her mouth close back up. “Oh -”

“Yes, this is on me. Are you ok?” I stepped closer to her and put an arm out. I noticed her husband (?) had gotten out too and I looked at him and moved closer in his direction. “Are you ok?”

“Yes, we’re fine,” said the woman, kind of taken aback. They both bent over to look at their bumper.

“Is there anything there?” I asked.

“No, no. It’s fine. It’s just -”

“Yes, good. I’m sorry.”

“What about your car?” The man started to examine my front bumper.

“My car is fine, it doesn’t matter. As long as you’re ok.”

I think they were looking at me like I was some kind of alien. Could I have been from around these parts?

She asked me if I’m ok and I said yes, I’m fine. She said “ok, well be careful,” and they both got back in the car and drove off before I even sat in my driver’s seat.

I was totally dumbstruck.

Ownership, accountability – is that so rare that they’d be so caught off guard by an incident so obviously my fault?

I turned my car back on and drove off, trying to not look back at the line of cars waiting behind us. Maybe this type of thing just happens so often, people are used to it. Expect it once in a while. I’ve certainly watched my fair share of bumper bumping exchanges at traffic lights, intersections, and residential roads.

It was when I had arrived at my destination and started shifting out of my seat to get out of the car when it hit me.

The belly. 

Her face, when she had looked me up and down while I was apologizing. Yes, it made sense now.

The pregnancy card.

Being pregnant might have hit me, literally, on a new level that day.

Now I’m just surprised she didn’t go nuclear savta and say anything about that as she left.

Or maybe it really was the accountability that threw them off.

Either way… that’s a new one for me.

Gasoline is a privilege.

Felt lucky as a I pumped my car with gas last night, with no wait, no lines, no odd-even rationing, and any gas station to choose from.

The petrol shortage in New York and New Jersey following Hurricane Sandy is making me consider how it’s probably our future anyway if we don’t collectively do something about reliance on oil and all that jazz.

Reminds me of Israel’s local attempt, Better Place

Some kind of ‘mom rite-of-passage.’

So… this happened.

After picking up the kiddos, deciding to be spontaneous, bypass the way home, stop in Mevo Beitar to let the kids play in the way-better park, call up Koala’s lil bestie to come, split up an hour later to drive home, put the kids in their car seats, shut the doors, and try to open mine…

I locked the kids in the car.

I tried the doors 21897543 times, pleaded with the keys, tormenting me from the front seat, and then I rallied. I spoke to Koala through the window. He was surprisingly calm. That’s one thing that I kept feeling relieved about – he can rally in the face of panic. We spoke through the window for a few minutes as I tried to tell him how to undo the carseat. He couldn’t do it, though he did follow my instructions pretty well.

I told him I was going to go somewhere, and I’d be right back. I ran back to the park, but none of the kids there had cell phones (aren’t we in Israel for god’s sake?!). So I went back to the kids, then to the nearest house, from which I turned away once I spotted the enormous horse dog guarding the front door.

Ran back to the kids, then back to the second nearest house. Knocked on the door. A guy who looked familiar opened it. He acted like he knew me, and then as we walked to the car together, it hit me – his daughter, perched in his arms, goes to Koala’s gan.

(Can you imagine how odd this must have all been to the boy?)

Anyway, after trying a few things, and refusing to wait for the huz to get back from Modiin or Shagrir to find their way to Mevo Beitar… I decided I wasn’t going to traumatize my kids any more than they already were by waiting outside the car, forty more minutes for help to arrive.

Instead, we broke a window.

And that’s when Koala freaked. And rightly so. It was a violent act, an attack on Ima’s car. So again, I was pretty ok with his ability to rally in the face of violence.

He also had a hard time leaving the thousands of little glass shards on the ground when we drove away… All he wanted was to put them all back…

Both kids were pretty shaken by the time I got them home. The whole thing had been 40 minutes, and we got home and discussed what happened. It’s not the first or second time Koala’s been visibly traumatized, and deconstructing what happened is the best medicine.

So I’m out a window, but at least my kids are ok, it wasn’t a hot day, and they both were able to keep their cool for most of the event.

I guess it’s better this way; I’d rather pay the price of a broken front-seat passenger window than the price of my nearly 3-year-old knowing how to get out of his carseat.

Automatic door-locker lesson learned.

Turns out, my mother did the same to me as a baby.

I’ll have to warn my daughter in advance.

 

Driving the Future to a Better Place.

I think we late ’70s/early ’80s peeps grew up in an awesome time. As kids, we could still appreciate that the Future was far away enough to dream big, and as adults, we’re seeing it happen.

Ok, fine, maybe every generation has that. But you can’t beat growing up in the ’80s.

Last night, Better Place hosted a tweetup to show off its vision, fruit platter abilities, and of course, the electric cars. We were shown a video, (hologram of Shai Agassi included), given a demo of the electric ‘pumps’ and of course – test drove the electric-only, Renault-made cars.

100% Electric - not to be confused with a gas tank.

So, I didn’t consider what would actually be different about the driving experience. I was just excited to pretend I’m living Flight of the Navigator.

And the truth is, the cars look and feel exactly like other cars… except a few things. Some examples:

  1. They are QUIET. Freakishly quiet. So quiet, I think pedestrian deaths may rise.
  2. The ‘gas’ pedal takes getting used to. The role of the brake also changes a bit. When you take your foot off the electric-fueled accelerator, the car starts to slow down for a sec; it was explained that the car begins the process to conserve/recharge battery. If you brake right away, then it’s a whole lot more stopping than you meant.
  3. There’s a built-in computerized dashboard called OSCAR (operating system car) for data updates (how much you’re charged) and GPS (where the next charging station is).

Meet the demo car. Spilling its guts.

When we had a little demo of the charging stations, I’m embarrassed/proud to say the first question that popped in my head was: Won’t it be about five minutes before some asshole shows up and cuts all the charging cables? Rips out the stations? Overrides the card system so they can detach the cars?

I’m a New Yawka, what do you want? No one else seemed bothered, though.

This is how we charge our electric cars.

FYI: One thing about the Future and electric cars – they still don’t make me a better driver.

Driving a better car to a better place.

P.S. Dad, I think I know how to get you in a French-made car now…

Better Place: so many jokes, by the way. So many.

 They’re already selling them in Israel, and charging stations are up (as seen in Mamilla in Jerusalem).

The Future is here, Cabbage Patch Kids!

This just made my aliyah.

I swear to the power that makes this universe run, this telephone conversation just happened (in Hebrew).

Note: This was the first time in nearly 7 years of aliyah that I have ever used the word מעולה on the phone to someone in a feedback survey of their customer service experience. 

“Hi! I’m calling from מרכז שירות נתן אקספרס. You recently had a tipul done for your Ford Focus.”

“Yes…”

“We just wanted to know how the car is doing. Is it driving well? Is everything to your satisfaction?”

“Yes… you guys were great…”

“Good to hear. We’d like to hear your feedback on the experience.”

“Oh… sure. It went well. My husband was the one at the shop, and he said dealing with you guys was great. All in all, we were very pleased.”

“So glad to hear!”

“Actually, you were the first service we’ve used ever, since our last car was an Eldan lease. So, it was all really wonderful. Thanks.”

“Excellent. Be in touch if you have any questions or needs in the future.”

Yes, ma’am.

By the way, they gave us a free car wash with the bill for new brakes. Hey, if you’re gonna get ripped off, why not get a free car wash, too?

[Merkaz Natan Express specializes in Ford/Mazda, and is located on Derch Beit Lechem. Phone 'em at 02-6733538]

That pilot is me…

Scene: Sixt car dealership, Jerusalem. Sasson the excellent salesman is chatting away at my husband, with me listening as I inspect the silver Ford Focus in front of me.

“So, what’s the difference between the Mazda 3 and Ford Focus?”

“Go with the Focus, trust me. The time of the Mazda 3 reigning in Israel is ending… For so long, everyone has just accepted that it was the obvious choice, and we’re moving on from that to other, much better cars.”

“Really?”

“Look at this lot – see all the Mazdas? No one wants them anymore now that they realize that for families there are much better and just as affordable options. You know what Mazda is good for? If you’re single and want to pretend you’re a pilot. But now you’re married, with kids.”

I didn’t look at my husband, but yeah. That pilot is me.

 

Rude awakening.

Ventured outside today for the first time since Bebe was born. I hated having to get in the car with my five-day-old daughter to drive into the center of Jerusalem and visit, of all places, Misrad Hapnim (ahem) (and here’s why). The idea of city-center air up her nostrils alone makes me sad.

But really, the biggest and most unfortunate shock is leaving the comfort and safety of your home after a healing house arrest and… risking your lives by car.

How many times in a 30-minute drive can carelessness happen around you? Cars crossing over you to turn, rocks hitting your window from a construction site, U-turn in the middle of a highway, a driver stopped in the middle of the road to chat with another driver…

And that’s just when my eyes weren’t down to avoid facing it all.

Well, it was a nice five-day vacation. Now back to my mommy-newborn cocoon.