The Big Felafel



Israeli Lines

I feel a hole in my body. I am not sure where it begins and if it ends. It is not like the other holes in a body- it connects no where and serves no purpose. It is more of a black hole and with it brings sadness I am not accustomed to.

These days I am more than just depressed. I have melancholy fingers and blue eyes. I am nothing nowadays. I am waiting for life to begin again. It is as though someone has put me on pause and just left me here. When did living stop and dying begin?

I don’t know how to feel anymore. My emotions are worse than menopause, worse then pregnant women with cravings and raging hormone battles. I am someone who has lost faith.

My faith in people. My faith in the Jewish People. My faith in the Jewish land. Living in Israel has actually created a hole in my body- both physically and emotionally. One is located in my brain- that would be the physical and as cliché as it is, the other is located in my heart.

When I first came to this country I felt like something had somehow been missing and that only Israel would fill the emptiness. I saw a country with great potential, the way someone buys a crap house and envisions a home they build with their own hands. I felt like Israel was a ladder waiting to be climbed.

But what I now know is there isn’t a ladder-there isn’t even a rope. I am not talking about a rope to climb up or in some cases down- I am referring to a rope that places people in an orderly fashion while waiting in line. You have probably seen them before, they have them at lines at amusement parks, movies and even banks. But in Israel there ain’t none of the above.

Forget it. No ladder no rope and no faith. This is what my life has come down to. And while it sounds like I am playing a game of chutes and ladders, I feel almost old and bitter as though this country has taken it all from me: money, spirit and youth.

Am I being a drama queen, or is this all true. Where does my exaggeration end and the truth begin. I believe it is all lost somewhere in my hole. The full feeling that Israel once gave me is out the door and hitching a ride to the Dead Sea.

I have lost faith in people. Did you ever cry in public? Well I am normally not a public crier per se but lately I have let the rains pour down my face like El Nino in Los Angeles. Now, when I cry in public I like to be left alone- it is pretty embarrassing to let your guard down and crying faces are normally unattractive- you know, your face gets all smushed and your makeup becomes an abstract painting mixed with eyeliner, foundation and blush. That all said while you have your head buried in your hands in the worst line ever (keep in mind when I say line I want you to imagine cows trying to cross the road. They are one gigantic herd shoving each other, mooing at each other. If you have this image then you know what I mean when I say line.), you would still like someone to ask you “Are you ok?”

Even if it is fake and they don’t care and they are reading it off of a cue card- just the fact that they say it makes you feel a little good. Granted you don’t answer them and wish they would go away and hope they step in dog shit on the way- but still it does give a little bit of that hallmark feeling to know someone cared just a little. Well I cried in line today and no one cared. In fact no one made eye contact. Oh sure, they looked at me- staring at the crazy girl who is weeping away- but eye contact wasn’t the case.

Israelis don’t care anymore. Everywhere I look this is evident. People throw trash on the ground, even next to a trash can- no one cares that the most evil, spineless man is still the Prime Minister- they don’t even care that the government is the most corrupt it has been in decades. Religious people are the ones ripping you off in the stores and the secular stick to themselves. Of course it all makes sense.

Bring it back to the rope. If the society does not care enough to just have a rope- then how are they going to give two-shits about a corrupt government or litter? And the reason I was crying in line- the obvious answer: I went to Betuach Leumi (Health Insurance) to fight with them about a bill they have incorrectly charged me for. I tried to get there early to avoid the crowd. I was there about a half hour after they open at 8:50am. But low and behold there was a paper taped to the door: Strike- open at 10am. So naturally I was upset. I mean this country is always on strike. So then I stood outside for an hour only to get inside where I stood for another half hour.

The above is the obvious answer as to why I would cry. But nothing is ever that simple. I was upset because I knew exactly what was going to happen. This group of people, without ropes to force them into a line would continue to mushroom into a great big blob. We were going to stand on top of each other and people wouldn’t have any deodorant on and it would become hot and unbearable. But more than that, once the doors would finally open, people would do that cow thing- a stamped to the entrance. And I knew it. And that is what hurts.

People are so disappointing and predictable. How are we ever going to be a nation, prove that we are the chosen people and bring the Messiah if we can’t even form a line together? So I cried. I cried for my future- all of it. The tears took over my whole body. I ached with sorrow and failure and cringed with remorse knowing that each one of my fellow so-called brothers was about to become my enemy, impeding me from my goal of reaching the front doors.

While Israel can’t get their act together enough to purchase ropes, they know how to deal with security. There were about 8 security guards and two cops at the entrance awaiting their opposing team of disgruntled slobs in a blob heating up for over an hour. Great.

My tears were uncontrollable and the more I looked around, I realized that this was dooms day for any hope or faith I had left. I am a pessimist by nature but continue to try and have faith, believing that there is more to life than my glass half empty or more like my glass knocked over. However, I knew at that moment, 10:05am that I had lost all faith in people, the Jewish People and Jewish land. I lost all three because it is like a hallah, they are braided together and one cannot exist without the other.

As the mess of people began to funnel their way to the doors, the security guards quickly became alert and used their force to back the crowd up. As screams of, “It isn’t fair, you are going to let them in first” and “I was here before them,” and “Let me through I am sick of waiting,” I just stood in the center of the madness and cried. I felt the pain of the nightmare turning into reality. As I predicted the mushrooms sides began to force their way to the front. These people are the worst society has to offer. They are the cutters and the don’t-carers. Remember them from the school yard- they could take your ball away and not think twice about it. They have no weight on their shoulders and play by their own rules. It is still their playground and they are still the schmucks with the balls- so to speak.

It was like a hurricane and I was the eye of the storm. All I could do was cry while the chaos grew around me. There was pushing from all sides, including the guards who just 15 minutes before chatted with the crowd- now they had become the evil guards fighting against our right to herd across the street- moooooooo! But I could only cry. I made the unattractive face and let the makeup drip as my whole body tensed up and my soul broke down.

And still no one cared. They worried about themselves and they worried about their bills. But they did not worry about the girl crying, the old man nearly falling and the feet they were stepping on.

After I finally made it in the guards asked me, “Why are you crying?” As though my answer could just be summed up in one sentence, “I forgot my breakfast at home,” “I spilled milk on my favorite shirt,” “my dog pooped in my shoes.” Why the hell do they think I am crying? Had they not just witnessed the chaotic blob of cow herds shoving their way into the entrance of hell only to run for the next line? In truth it did not matter what I said, because the guards didn’t care. Still I admit on some level I appreciated their fake concern and felt the hallmark warmth.

Once in the second line, I waited 15 more minutes until my next battle with the teller. I needed to put myself together. There couldn’t possibly be anymore tears. Of course all of this didn’t matter because the teller only had 2 minutes to deal with me. She explained the charge and said that’s that and if I would like to pay it now. Any argument I had was blocked by her wall-face and shattered to pieces. That was it.

Looking back on the horror I realize that all of this could have been avoided with the simplicity of a rope. The rope would be a tool to keep the crowd in a line and calm. There would not have been a mushroom cloud and there would not have been bullies that enraged even the calmest old lady. The rope is such a simple step but without it there is no ladder to climb.

Without a ladder I can only drown in my tears. And as I catch my breath to stay afloat I lose my faith in people, the Jewish People and the Jewish land.

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