Saturday, July 29, 2006

It's Saturday!

And I'm not at work! I have discovered that it is really important to your sanity to have a day off, completely off. And it is better to have two. Can't tell you how nice it is to putz around the apartment, and to spend quality time with my dog.

Shabbat (the Jewish sabbath) is really quiet here. There is no traffic (a real rarity here and one not to take for granted because Israeli drivers are nuts), so you can drive whereever you want quickly (the city is not that big but the traffic means it takes me 30 minutes or more to go three miles to work). An Israeli in the states once told me that because this place is constantly at war or under the threat of suicide bombers, people have learned to live for today. I thought that sounded like a nice sentiment, but I have discovered that what it really means is "it is all about me." So if "I" need to need to go to the 24 hour store but there is no parking in front of it, I stop my car in the middle of the lane of traffic in front of the store and go in. Never mind that this means that everyone else will be backed up because I have blocked traffic, because it is all about me. And the police will not do a thing about it, because that would be an inconvenience to them to have to deal with it, and it is all about them. In fact, the only thing the police here do when there is no terrorism to deal with is turn off perfectly good traffic lights and direct traffic because they are bored. And that makes traffic worse. Don't get me wrong, the police are awesome at dealing with potential is just that there has been the hudna (the quiet) for most of the time I have been here, so they ave been bored alot (I suggested they do police work to find the person who robbed my apartment April 13 of last year, but taking fingerprints and such is really not what they do).

Another fun thing on shabbat is the shabbat elevator. Orthodox Jews are not allowed to work on the sabbath, and that includes "making a fire." Causing a change in electricity is considered making a fire, and so lights that are on at sundown Friday when the shabbat horn sounds stay on until sundown Saturday, and lights that are off stay off. It also means that you can not press the button on the elevator, but you can ride an elevator that is already in use. So they have the elevators programmed to run continiously and to stop on every floor. Riding one is an exercize in patience, especially if you live on the top floor! My building fortunately has two elevators, and only one is programmed for shabbat. But the programming sometimes screws with the other elevator. And people get stuck in it. But they won't come fix it because they don't work on shabbat, and when it isn't shabbat and the shabbat elevator isn't on, the other works fine.

I got stuck in it last year about this time for about 30 minutes. It shuttered to a stop at the 4th floor, and then when I repushed my button, went to my floor but wouldn't open! Thankfully, our folks will work on shabbat, so our GSO (who is awesome) sent our maintenance folks (who are also awesome) over to get me and Noostie (my dog) out of the elevator. I will admit that the experience taught me that I am not nearly as claustrophobic as I thought, though it was a bit unnerving that the elevator, while not letting me out, never actually stopped going up and down! I was on the phone nnuch of the time with Joe, one of our marines at the time, who heard I was in the elevator and called to check on me. We really have some good folks here.

So finally I get to enjoy a shabbat...I can putz around the apartment with my dog...maybe I will open the sliding glass door and enjoy the quiet. I think I'll stay off the elevator though...I did hear the alarm that people push when they are stuck in it last night (and no, the person isn't still in there)!

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