As the Tisha Be'av fast ended and an imminent general strike threatened the nation, the passengers who trickled into Ben-Gurion Airport on Tuesday night seemed anything but alarmed as they prepared to board flights.
The airport was practically empty in the evening, but as the night wore on, the check-in lines began to grow. Nevertheless, it was hard to find anyone panicking that their vacation would be affected by Histadrut Chairman Ofer Eini's ultimatum.
News teams were out in force, wires tracing across the departures level's polished floors - but there was very little action. Instead, a preschooler awaiting a flight posed for the first photo of his trip, his mother whipping out a digital camera to snap her son holding a Channel 2 microphone and standing dwarfed by the news cameras behind him.
Even the few travelers attempting to switch their tickets appeared relatively unfazed by the looming strike.
Brian Epstein, concluding a six-week visit to Israel, arrived at the airport in the evening to try to move his flight forward - but not because of the strike.
"I've been here long enough, and I'm just ready to go home," he said as he navigated from ticket counter to ticket counter. Epstein was supposed to return home in another 27 hours.
"What? A strike? You're joking!" said the would-be traveler, carrying a guitar and two bags. "So it's a good thing I came early, right?"
Epstein joined a handful of travelers standing outside of the Continental Airlines window, waiting for the ticket agent to open at 9 p.m. All of them were changing their tickets for reasons completely unrelated to the strike.
Airport service workers - contracted security guards and employees at the airport's shops - seemed mildly amused by the impending shutdown. They updated each other on the latest news, and seemed to look at it as an unexpected vacation day. But mostly, they maintained their routines, patrolling, checking passengers and reviewing tourist cellphone rental plans. At the coffee shop frequented by workers on their breaks, the sports pages were more animatedly discussed than the strike.
But as the news came through that Eini had decided to postpone the airport shutdown by 24 hours, not even the would-be travelers in line at the ticketing desk seemed relieved at their temporary stay of execution. Instead, one rolled his eyes.
"That's how they always do it," he sighed. "They get you into it slowly, slowly. But in the end, you're screwed over just the same."
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