The bus route scheme in Tel Aviv and its suburbs had recently been modified as part of a major reform. As you would expect of responsible adults, the Ministry of Transportation is trying to make people aware of the changes. And so, a ubiquitous billboard on Tel Aviv’s streets these days reads…
"They screwed up all my bus routes." Hmmm.
It seems that the government is admitting both that its move is causing great confusion and that the average passenger knows it. All cards are on the table. What is one to do now?
I try to make sense of my modified bus route, pouring over a schedule at a bus station. A few minutes later, a man approaches the information panel. He sighs and says: "They're changing everything again." I nod. "They only did it six months ago, remember?" I don't know what to say to that. I wasn’t in Israel six months ago.
It's late and I don't feel like talking. Best way out is to agree: "Yes, that was inconvenient." I hope that this will put an end to this chat, but the man is getting more agitated. "They're always screwing things up. They don't know what they're doing. Remember the problems we've had in 2009?"
I realize this is going to take a while, so all I can do is minimize the damage. I respond with: "Yeah, that was awful." which seems to appease him somewhat but he pushes on: "And 2007 was a worse case, don't you agree?"
I concur, of course. "Definitely, 2009 was bad enough, but 2007, that was worse." He nods but hurries to correct me: "2007 was pretty bad but the worst was 2006."
At this point I still have no clue what he’s talking about. So I do the only thing I can. I improvise. "Oh yeah, I forgot, 2006 was the absolute worst. I remember that now. Even worse than 2007, which I thought was pretty bad. Not as bad as 2009, but still, man, it was a pain.”
The man seems to agree. He nods and concurs with "yes", "exactly" and "that's right." Yet just when I start to have fun, the bus arrives. He gets on, looks back at me and says: "Aren't you getting on?" I shake my head.”
“I'm taking a different bus,” I tell him. “You know, especially after what happened in 2009."
Alex returned to Israel after 23 years in Canada. He is discovering that much has changed. And much hasn't.
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