A short, convenient bus route to a hospital is something that is very important, though we do not always think about it, for such instances as visiting a loved one who is ill, going for a test or some treatment or, in this case, an appointment at the dental clinic.
For a long time, perhaps driven by an inherent repugnance to the mere thought of delivering myself into the hands of some dentist, I always chose the longest and most circuitous route to reach the Hadassah University Hospital dental clinic. I would take two different lines, from Talpiot to the city center and from there the 19; or I'd change buses at the Central Bus Station to the No. 27. Either of these options would take, based on a good deal of optimism, about an hour or more, depending on - you guessed it - the downtown traffic jams.
After a while, I had to face up to what I had been trying to ignore for a few weeks now: that I actually had a direct line from Talpiot to Hadassah Ein Kerem - the No. 12 bus, which starts out in east Talpiot and ends at the hospital.
I knew it was a line that did not run frequently, but I said to myself, "How long could it take? If I make the simple effort to get the bus schedule and aim for the right time, I will surely save a lot of time and even 90 agorot" (the saving on the price of a one-trip ticket instead of the two-trip transfer I had been buying).
Like a real strategist, I first asked the people waiting at the bus stop about the frequency of the 12. It turned out to be worse than I thought. The No. 12 bus comes once an hour. Problematic, but nothing compared to what I was soon to discover on my first trip.
On D day, I got to the bus stop on time - six minutes before the bus was scheduled to arrive. After eight minutes I was still waiting. I decided to assume a positive attitude and told myself that perhaps the driver had decided to stop for a while by the Haas Promenade and allow his passengers to enjoy, even just for a few minutes, the breathtaking view from there. That was exactly the moment the bus arrived, and a quick glance at the driver convinced me that if ever such a miracle could happen, it would not be with this guy.
The bus left the Bank Junction (at the corner of Derech Hebron, Rivka and Ein Gedi streets) at 08:59 (instead of the scheduled 08:50) almost devoid of passengers but not so devoid of dirt between the seats and grime on the windows.
At first the bus made its way toward Malha, and I was almost worried
that I would arrive too early. But then the prospect of a few minutes at the cafeteria near the clinic over a frothy cup of coffee cheered me up. But my sense of satisfaction was short-lived. Soon the bus was taking such liberties with skirting main thoroughfares and going down side streets that I could hardly tell where we were. And it continued that way, with more and more narrow streets within neighborhoods, more and more stops, more people getting on - and still no sign of Hadassah. I could almost swear we were driving way off course - yet no one around me seemed the least bit surprised or concerned. I soon realized, however, that I was the only passenger who was naÃ¯ve enough to assume that a direct line that runs only once an hour would go directly to the ultimate destination.
By now, the foamy coffee was no more than a distant dream, while the sight of my dentist glaring at me due to my delay seemed closer to the dismal reality.
After one hour and 10 minutes I could see, even through the dusty windows, Hadassah looming ahead. Who would have believed that one day this sight would fill me with the closest thing to joy?
Conclusion: NIS 5.90 instead of NIS 6.80, about the same amount of time, no waiting for a connecting bus - and dirt, dust and a somewhat nervous driver thrown in for free. Still trying to figure out why the powers-that-be at Egged decided to turn the No. 12 into a kind of annual trip, I suddenly had a brainwave: the light rail! Why didn't anyone consider that this would be the best route for its first line instead of turning our lives upside down with that impossible downtown route?