Street smarts

I wish I could tell you that the stories below were fiction. They are based, in fact, on events that happened to people I know. It’s shameful that “small” forms of terrorism impact many Israelis daily lives.


“They’re going to repossess our house!” he yelled, his face the color of raw hamburger.


“Don’t matter if I’m dead,” she sighed, her face the hue of seagull droppings.


She pressed the button on their car phone that terminated his response and then switched on the CD she had inserted the night before. Both their financial crisis and her health problems needed immediate attention.


In tending to him, to her thoughts about their challenges and to the music, she had missed the sign which informed her that her path was into a literally hostile village. Many moments later, she noticed the women with head scarves and the turban-crowned men.


She looked for a round-about, for a break in the highway at which to make a U-turn, or for some other means to reverse her choice. No such opportunities existed; she was committed to a long, one way street.


Kilometers later, at a traffic light, she spun herself in the direction of safety. When stopped for a red light, she had seen smileless teens approach her vehicle. A friend’s car had been totaled the previous week by a similar “welcoming committee.”


Her friend was driving home in the company of an armed husband, an armed brother-in-law and a sister-in-law. That family’s community was surrounded by the settlements of unfriendly others, by people who had broken all of the road’s street lamps, and who had left a cement truck parked at the end of one of its rural bends.


Her friend had, as the trappers had hoped, crashed head-on into "the others’" truck. She had crushed her car entirely, but, had somehow miraculously not injured herself or her passengers. Stunned, her friend and her family had stumbled out of their auto and had immediately called the army for help.


While waiting for backup, her friend and her family had walked quickly away from the wreck. They had been trailed by the same locals who had placed the truck in the road. Her friend and her loved ones had nearly reached their community when the others had closed in. In desperation, the husband and the brother-in-law fired into the crowd. It dispersed.


Later, representatives of the army, who belatedly appeared at that friend’s village, mentioned something about other vehicles, about other civilians being consumed at that turn in the road and about the army’s awareness that certain street lamps were not functioning. By the time that the army representatives had escorted the husband and the brother-in-law back to that scene, neither that friend’s destroyed car nor the offending truck was in sight.


Understandably, her friend was hysterical for a week. She remained sleepless for a month.


The lost woman reflected on that friend’s tale as she drove through the streets of the others. She wondered if urban violence emulated countryside brutality. When, at last, she reached the artery from which she had mistakenly turned, she again exhaled.


A bit thereafter, the woman pushed the button that rolled down her windows. She did not again press “play,” on her music panel. In fact, she pulled off of the road to pray gratitudes. There were more immediately challenges than debt or bad health.