Sunday, August 15, 2010

PART FIVE. Transportation. Number Two. The Breast Stroke

Ever take swim lessons, Shloimy?

Remember some of the swim strokes they teach?

The crawl, the back stroke, the breast stroke?


Well, swimming isn't the only place the breast stroke is important.

It's important in transportation, too.

Did you know that?

Well, that's how it is in Israel.

Here's how it works:

Let's say that you are waiting for a bus. At a bus stop.

In Israel, there are almost always someone waiting at a bus stop.

Then the bus comes.

Now, Shloimy, remember, this is Israel, not America. So, when the bus comes, you do not loitter.

What you do is, you join the crowd:  everyone wanting to get onto that bus forms a crowd at the door, and everyone pushes to get onto the bus at the same time.

This is called 'a bottleneck'.

And what you want, Shloimy, is to be at the neck, not the bottle.

Of course, Shloimy, you understand that there are subtleties to this process.  For example, if the person in front of you is armed, you want to worry about getting too close, right? --

watch your tummy!

This is important, Shloimy, because getting onto a bus is not a sure thing. You understand? Bus drivers in Israel can be very, very impatient.

How do I know this?

Because if you do not push, the bus drivers here sometimes close the door on people, before everyone has gotten onto the bus.

At least, that's how people behave.

So, to keep the bus driver from doing this, perhaps to trap the doors from being able to close, Israelis appear to have developed two cultural adaptions. First, they all try to squeeze onto the bus at the same time, perhaps as a way to convince the bus driver not to close the door.

But this cultural adaption does not always work; and so, apparently,  to forestall the possibility of a failure, Israelis seem to have a second adaptation, this one less communal and more personal:  they behave as if  they are certain that if YOU push and squeeze to get on, maybe the door will not close on YOU.

These adaptations, however, seem only to work for some people some of the time. But they are still curiously effective--because they're exactly like the lottery! There are just enough winners to convince everyone else the thing really works.

But then, there are the Russians.

You see, Shloimy, the Russians know all about chance, failure and hope. And what they know, they apparently don't like.

 So they bring to this game their own rules.

So, here you are at a bus stop with lots of other people, and you are a polite, pleasant American. Right?

Suddenly, you are caught up in a squeeze to get onto the bus. But Americans are not just polite, are they? Americans  know a thing or two about competition, don't they?

Conmpetition is America's middle name, isn't it?

So once you see what's going on,  you feel that sense of good ol' American competition surge through your veins,  and you join in--you push and squeeze.

Then, just as you are getting the hang of this, and you are squeezing your way closer to the doors, you feel a great big woman's breast pushing into your arm, at the elbow, from behind you.  Being a polite America, you move your arm, to get away from it. Isn't that what a polite American does? But this chivalry doesn't work, because the more you move your arm, the harder the breast pushes into you.

So you turn, to get away from it--and then, just as you turn your body , the big, tough Russian woman who was just behind you is now using both breasts to turn you and push you aside (by turning, Shloimy, you have given up your position!).

In a split second, she is ahead of you!

The breast stroke.

Score: Russian Momma, one. Shloimy the American, zero.

And Shloimy, don't think that this rather intimate engagement is an act of friendship. These Russian women are warriors. They know what it takes to get into a bus. They're as tough as a rooster. And nastier.

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