Life Coaching: Hamming it up in a Jewish army

I could already picture the headlines the next morning: "Attempt to Intercept Terrorists Botched by Poorly Dressed American Immigrant".

ben goldfarb 88 (photo credit: )
ben goldfarb 88
(photo credit: )
Arriving late for your first stint of reserve duty in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is like showing up on the set of a foreign film without a script. The story that you are about to read is mostly true. For security reasons, many of the facts have been changed, except for those that were fabricated. -------------------------------------- Due to the flu, I missed the first three days of my IDF training where my cohorts learned about tear gas, hand grenades, and mixed drinks. Once my fever went down, I mustered up the strength to drive myself to my army base to report for active duty. After being yelled at for approximately 2 hours due to my tardiness and lack of color coordination, I was sent to a quaint Arab village called Abu Dis. This picturesque vacation spot is located just a stone's throw away from the Mount of Olives in East Jerusalem. No sooner did I arrive was I sent out on foot patrol. Our goal was to round up the usual suspects and make it back to the base by lunch time. Here I was, a nice Jewish boy from Texas, checking our cousins for guns, knives, and pirated videos. Not ten minutes into our excursion, I was asked to frisk some of the natives. Although they bared no resemblance to the natives I was familiar with from National Geographic, I had to jump into action. Although I missed Frisking 101, I did spend a lot of time watching police scenes from Hawaii 5-0, the Mod Squad, and Sesame Street. All I had to do was replicate what I saw the overpaid actors do on television. So I frisked two or three of the locals in the most efficient way possible. I thought I did a pretty good job. My commanding officer begged to differ. He didn't like the fact that I used my Grover imitation when I interrogated the suspects. As a punishment, I was transferred out of my beloved unit and sent to an alternative army base for "special" soldiers. As soon as I arrived at the new base in the Jordan Valley, I noticed many subtle differences between this unit and my old one. For example, after I signed the guest registry, I received a complimentary robe and pair of slippers for the sauna. My previous unit would never even think of including the slippers. After speaking with the concierge, I checked into my bungalow. So far, I was enjoying my transfer. The only problem in this little paradise was my army issue pants. Although lovely in design and color, they were four sizes too big for me. My requests to get another pair of pants were met by deaf ears. In a Jewish country, I assumed that at least one tailor would be in my unit, but fate was not on my side in the clothing department. I spent most of my time pulling up my pants which had a nasty habit of gravitating toward my knees. I used a phone cord as a makeshift belt, but this solution was less than satisfactory since the cord was in use at the time. My commanding officer, Kobi, spent quality time with each of us at the end of our busy days of self-exploration, personal growth, and origami workshops. He read us bedtime stories and tucked us in our cots with encouraging words. One night Kobi was eating sunflower seeds while he was reading to me. Because his speech was somewhat muffled, I wasn't sure if he was reading "The Hardy Boys" or "The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire." Partly out of confusion, and partly out of my allergy to sunflower seeds, I drifted off into a deep sleep. I was told later that he put a special treat under my pillow for the morning. Three hours later at 3:20 A.M, my REM sleep was rudely interrupted by the ear-piercing ringing of the alarm on the electrified Israeli/Jordanian fence. This alarm could mean possible terrorist infiltration, or a sudden increase in trading on NASDAQ. I jumped out of my bed and tripped over my pants. As long as I was cursed with these pants, I would have the moral dilemma of dying of embarrassment or dying of gunshot wounds for failure to return enemy fire. I could already picture the headlines the next morning: "Attempt to Intercept Terrorists Botched by Poorly Dressed American Immigrant". I got up off the floor, pulled up my pants and climbed into the waiting jeep. I noticed Kobi was panicking. I tried to help him with some visualization and guided imagery, but he looked at me as if I were speaking broken Hebrew. Looking back on the event years later, I realized he was right. After a ten minute ride, we arrived a few feet away from the point of infiltration. Kobi ordered us to break up into small groups. Two enlisted men and Kobi headed north, and my pair of pants and I proceeded south. We reached the location of the security breach, and confirmed that this was no false alarm. The Jewish state had in fact been infiltrated. The sovereign state of Israel's security was compromised by a 200-pound wild boar. The creature had got himself tangled in the electric fence, and was squealing like, for lack of a better metaphor, a stuck pig. This boar was the epitome of chutzpa. He knew full well that the Jews wouldn't eat him, the Muslims wouldn't touch him, and there were no Thai workers around that would bring him home for breakfast. With the help of an alternative veterinarian and a holistic electrician, we were able to release the creature from his trap. The behemoth was unscathed and now free to return to the Jordanian side. This newly liberated animal could now continue doing whatever it is that pigs do at three o'clock in the morning in the Middle East. We drove back to our tent. Kobi was back to himself - relaxed, confident, and spitting sunflower shells all over me. I went back to my bungalow and fell back into a deep, sweet sleep. I felt something under my pillow, but I didn't want to peek and ruin Kobi's surprise. I would wait for the morning to see what he got for me. When I woke up a few hours later, I found a jar of Kosher, Imitation Bacon Bits under my pillow. Then to my surprise, I was greeted by journalists and camera crews from GQ, the Humane Society and Greenpeace. Maybe it was time to go back to Abu Dis. Ben Goldfarb was born and raised in El Paso, Texas, and is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. He moved to Israel in 1988. He divides his time between his yeshiva studies and his coaching practice. His life calling is to help others understand their personal mission and accomplish it with humor, creativity, and spirituality. He lives with his wife and children in Jerusalem. His book, "Double Feature: A Nostalgic Peek into the Future" will be published in the spring. For more information about his coaching practice, visit the Paradigm Shift Communications website, or send an email to [email protected] © Copyright 2007 by Ben Goldfarb