Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Identifying Cars, Seeing Threats

I had an interesting conversation with Shmulik while we were driving the other day. As we were entering a traffic circle, a car to our right edged in more than he should have. I was watching to see that the car would stop and didn't notice another car that also came closer than it should have.

I said something to Shmulik about the first car and he asked me if I'd seen the other. I admitted that I had not seen it (he was driving, so it wasn't like we were in any danger). He asked me what type of car had come towards us on the right. "A white one," I admitted a bit sheepishly.

My sons (Elie and Shmulik and probably Davidi as well) can all tell cars by their make, their model and their year. I know some models, fewer makes, and no years. That's when Shmulik told me how his commanding officer used to quiz him after he passed a car "what car was that?" S. would ask him; how many people in the car?

He was training Shmulik to be more aware, to notice the details and that remains with him today. He notices things. It helps in his work as a security job; it is a part of their lives in general. They scan the hills in certain areas where Arabs are known to throw rocks; they watch if someone suspicious comes around.

Yesterday, Shmulik drove me to work and then took the car to his yeshiva. On the way up the mountain into Jerusalem, there is a public transportation lane that can be used by cars, taxis, and cars carrying 3 or more passengers.

At the top, just before the checkpoint, there is a small inset area where police often stand, waiting to pull violators with less than 3 people over. As we came closer, we noticed two cars had been pulled over. A woman was angrily pacing behind her car while talking on the phone. There was a lot of traffic and we were moving very slowly. She moved to get into her car and then for some reason, while talking to the policeman, she got out of the car again.

In that moment, her car began to roll backwards. The steering wheel had obviously been turned slightly so the car, as it rolled backwards, moved in an arch. The car in front of us stopped. The cars to our left stopped. Almost in slow-motion, it seemed that all eyes were on the drama of this "unmanned" car rolling backwards. The woman tried to get into the car; the policeman seemed to be pulling her away.

The car missed other cars by mere inches and crashed into the highway divider. It bounced forward and then rolled backwards and settled against the divider. The woman was clearly distraught; the policeman pulled her away. Someone got into the car to secure it, I guess. Traffic began to move.

So later that evening, I was telling Elie and my husband about what happened and they asked me what type of car it was. I gave them the most professional answer I could, "it was red."

They laughed and so I said, "I have to go to the bathroom; when I come back, I'll tell you what kind of car it was." I went to my room and sent Shmulik an SMS - "What kind of car was it this morning, the red one?"

Within seconds, he answered, "Subaru Imprezia, 1995."

I walked out of the bedroom and said, "It was a Subaru, an Imprezia, 1995." Elie and my husband started to laugh even harder and asked if I had a picture on my phone.

I told them no, but they still laughed. "What, you think I don't know anything about car?" They laughed again. "Anyway, we own a Subaru Imprezia, no? Of course, I know the car!" By now, I was struggling not to laugh myself.

"Ima," Elie answered, "A 1995 doesn't look anything like our car!" (which is a 2006). What do I know? It was red!

They might have accepted if I said Subaru alone, my older daughter later suggested. They might even have accepted had I said Imprezia. I guess I shouldn't have added the year.

It was red, though.

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