Saturday, April 02, 2005


So I have been up this morning since about 5:30 old time and 6:30 summer time. We switched to summer time yesterday. I woke to the sound of strong winds swishing around and lots and lots of birds. The birds chirp loudly at sunrise and then they settle down. The winds have calmed as well. We've even had a few drops of rain. It might very well be the last rain of the year.

With all the noise and commotion, I wasn't able to go back to sleep. I did go back to bed, but nothing happened. I got up and read more of my new favorite blog I also checked with CNN to see if the Pope was still alive.

When I was in the bed waiting for sleep to come again I had lots of great ideas for blog entries. There were interesting things to post about and share. But now that I am in front of the computer, nada. Ugh!

Oh goody! I just remembered one idea!

Being Israeli can get you killed.

There is an aspect to culture here that some call hutzpah (insolence/attitude) that can make life a pain (and can even get you killed). What I am talking about here is basically a lack of personal regard for others. One of my biggest beefs is with people that park all over the sidewalk. First of all, Jerusalem is a difficult city to get around as a pedestrian. People drive fast. It seems as if you're risking your life sometimes just by crossing the street where there isn't a dedicated green light for pedestrians. Sidewalks can be narrow and spotted with dog shit. The biggest problem though is people that use the curb and sidewalk as parking. Often times the cars don't leave enough room to pass on the sidewalk. You have to step out onto the street to pass. Not good.

I totally understand that people need to make deliveries, drop passengers off, wait to pick up a friend, or run into a shop for just a minute. I understand that parking in Jerusalem can be a pain to say the least - especially at night. There has to be some middle ground though!

We have metal poles along some roads to keep people from parking on there. Many intersections have them as well to keep cars out of the line of sight so people can make safe turns. Streets without these poles are fair game though. (To be fair, I saw them in Paris too, so it might not be just an Israeli problem.) During the day, if you're parked on the curb for too long, you'll probably get a ticket. But at night or on Shabbat, no cops = free parking.

So here's my point, the other day I was sitting in a cafe and saw a woman in a wheelchair go up the sidewalk. There was a big delivery truck parked on the sidewalk in her path. She had to get off the sidewalk and onto the street which was a challenge with the big drop from the curb. A friend was walking with her and he helped her down. Now he was pushing her in the street around the truck. There wasn't another ramp to get on the sidewalk until the end of the block, so the guy pushed her in that direction. Most of this was taking place without any traffic, thank goodness. Soon a car approached and it waited behind them for a minute. Then the driver honked at them! Can you believe that???!!! He honked his horn at a woman in a wheelchair! Oh my goodness! I was so furious!

Sometimes we forget that we aren't alone in this world. It's not all about us. Being considerate of others isn't doing them a favor, it's just what you're supposed to do. Yaacov thinks that I take this to an extreme. I am always pushing the shopping cart to the side of the aisle when were in the grocery store even when there's nobody else around.

Sometimes at night people "create" parking spaces and reduce the size of the roadway. I am convinced that emergency vehicles would have a really hard time getting through. A fire truck needs a lot of room! I wish I was a police officer when I see folks parked that way. There should be a special fine for parking in such a way that emergency vehicles can't pass. Instead of a fine, people would have to do community service at a hospital or something. No! In addition to the fine!

The other night a whole family (both parents and three children) was killed in a car accident here. They where in a mini-van and made an illegal u-turn in a crossing for emergency vehicles. To make the u-turn the van had to basically come to a stop. When it entered the travel lane a car traveling at full speed hit the van from behind and pushed it into oncoming traffic. It's a horrible story. Of course these kinds of things happen everywhere, I am sure. Yet there is this attitude here though where people push the envelope of safety and common sense that makes it seem more likely.

Stop. Think.

Don't get me started on construction workers and their occupational safety standards!


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