Buses - Eran Wolkowski - 08072011
Photo by Eran Wolkowski
Text size

Is it paranoid to think the public transportation reform in Gush Dan was intended to make things worse for bus passengers, not better? As someone who both travels by bus and is paranoid, I would say that the answer is no. Well, yes: The transportation reform has not been implemented to make it easier to get around Gush Dan, but rather to cure passengers' paranoid anxiety.

Yesterday I took the No. 25 bus along Ibn Gvirol Street. Every minute or so a different passenger - sometimes me and sometimes other passengers, several times - got up and went to the front of the bus to ask the driver whether this was the same route as before, or whether the route had perhaps changed because of the reform. Even after the driver reassured the anxious passengers, some continued to ask their seatmates, just to be extra sure, whether the driver hadn't misled them, since maybe he hadn't heard their question and just mechanically nodded his head to get rid of them.

The fact is that the people behind the reform were not from the Transportation Ministry, headed by the affable Yisrael Katz, but rather people from the Health Ministry and its head, Yaakov Litzman, who have now found a way to provide instant group therapy for paranoia and excessive anxiety.

This is how it works: The patient suffering from anxiety stands at the bus stop, looks at the sign indicating the route numbers and moans to himself: "Woe is me, from whence cometh my help?" Suddenly a bus arrives. Let's say it's No. 25. The patient does a brief calculation: "I want to go to Pinsk, and before the reform I would take the No. 25. But undoubtedly they changed its route now. And it no longer goes to Pinsk, but rather to Minsk!" (Try saying that last sentence aloud quickly. ) The door opens.

"Excuse me," says the passenger. "Do you go to Minsk or Pinsk?"

"Where do you need to go?" asks the driver.

"To Pinsk."

"That's fine. Get on," says the driver.

The passenger boards the bus and sits down, but he is worrying the driver heard "M" instead of "P." At the same time, he looks out the window and can't believe what he is seeing. The familiar, beloved route is unrolling before his eyes as always - just like before the reform! Rabin Square, the post office, Century Tower, Milano Square. Blessed is the reform!

Upon arriving at Pinsk, his destination, the passenger has been cured of his anxieties. His city has remained standing! After all, it could have been a lot worse had the environmental protection minister been behind the reform, and had diverted, for example, a Yarkon River tributary down Ben Yehuda Street, and instituted a ferry service for passengers between Pinsk and Minsk.

Thus, the public transportation reform contains a strong element of education to mental flexibility, creativity and Jewish awareness. For henceforth the passenger who comes to the bus stop lifts up his eyes unto the sign of bus route numbers and tries to imagine what his lucky number is.

"What looks like the new number that will go to Yehupetz?" he asks himself. "Maybe 129?" And he calculates thus: In Jewish numerology, 129 equals the letters quf-khaf-tet. Ever since the reform he has been carrying the Book of Psalms in his pocket, so he opens it to Psalm 129 and reads: "'Much have they afflicted me from my youth up,' let Israel now say; 'Much have they afflicted me from my youth up; but they have not prevailed against me.'"

"Hmm," thinks the passenger. "God is signaling to me through his holy book that this whole reform is a terrible affliction, but in the end we shall overcome."

Thus, when bus No. quf-khaf-tet pulls up, he boards it unbowed and so imbued with faith that he does not even ask the driver if it is going to Yehupetz.

And indeed instead of going to Yehupetz, it goes to Kasrilevke and in Kasrilevke (whose name was changed in a previous reform to "Tel Aviv," and was borne away from Shalom Aleichemland on a gigantic bulldozer and set down on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea ), the passenger gets off the bus and kisses the soil, and offers his thanks to God for having granted the cabinet ministers the wisdom to implement reforms that gradually, step by step, are bringing him back to the original Kasrilevke!

Begone thee, paranoia! We are no longer afraid of thee.

The transportation reform has been implemented not to make our lives worse, but rather for our benefit. We began with bus No. 25 to Pinsk, and although by mistake we got to Minsk, deep down inside we didn't really want to end up there, but in Yehupetz, only we didn't reveal this for the whole world to know because we are paranoid, and we don't disclose our deepest wishes to just any old driver.

And instead of getting to Yehupetz we got to Kasrilevke on bus No. quf-khaf-tet and then we had a good chuckle over how much money we saved. Because before the reform, the trip from Pinsk to Kasrilevke cost six kopecks - and now, wait a minute ... Hey, driver, why did you charge me the full price? I'm entitled to the paranoids' discount! Stop, thief!