It was 2012 and I received an emergency call up. It seems the government had had enough of the rockets coming out of gaza and decided to do something about it. So I went to my closet, filled up my duffle bag with amy uniform, socks etc and drove down south to the base. There was quite a lot of activity going on, but it wasn’t hard to find my unit (mobile phones…). The days were busy as we got organized, hunted down equipment, trained, etc. The officers were especially busy as they had quite a lot to learn and prepare in a short time.
One of our officers had a meeting in Tel Aviv and needed someone to drive him as he was exhausted, I was chosen. He actually wasn’t much company as he slept all the way. We arrived at the meeting and I had a few hours to kill (we guessed at between 2-4).
The Haircut 🙁
I had a car so I decided first of all to get haircut (my wife was complaining about my hair, and actually longer hair in a helmet is not that comfortable). I drove north a bit a found a nice fancy mall in north Tel Aviv. I was pretty filthy having been training in the desert, and as I approached the “salon” I felt slightly out of place. I looked in, wasn’t sure, but the guy waved me in, so I entered. I sat in the nice wide chair, and really didn’t know where to place my weapon. I didn’t want to put it on floor nor did I want to place it out of my sight, so I held it under the “cape,” while he cut my hair. It felt like I was in some kind of action movie. He asked me about where I was, where I was going (it was rather obvious he understood little) and then he went into a 20 minute monologue about how he would like to go down to the front where everyone is training and give everyone a haircut, how we deserved it, how its the least he could do for those of us who are willing put our lives on line (such a cliche). I’m thinking ok, so at least I’ll get a free haircut out of all of this. He finishes up, I look in the mirror and the haircut is good, but I’m still filthy. I reach down to the small pocket on my leg where I keep my wallet, and I’m expecting him any minute to tell me to keep it, but he doesn’t and I pay him his 60nis. So much for those free haircuts that we “deserved.”
The Salesman 🙁
Next stop, a camping/army supply store. Before we left I asked if anybody needed anything and was rewarded with quite a list. Seems the emergency call up (zav 8) meant many forgot to take some basics: socks, batteries, headlamps etc. I go north to the nearest store. The store is empty and I give the salesman my list. And he asks, which unit I’m in, that he wished that he was going and other small talk, he then mentioned that there will be a special discount price for me and the guys in my unit. (I’m thinking ok, now were talking). We put everything on the counter he adds them up and then comes the special price – 5%. Thats it? just 5%. We’re going to war and thats all we get is 5% off?
The Prostitute 🙂
Finished with my list, I call up the officer for a time estimate, 2 more hours. I’m getting tired and I do have a 2-3 hour drive back down south. There is a hotel in North Tel Aviv, along the beach but far from the crowds. with a big field next to it and large parking area (Tel Baruch). I used to play tennis there. I figure I could go there, park and take a nap for an hour or two.
I arrive and its pretty empty. In the field I could see a few cars moving around and a few prostitutes walking up to them. I get out for some fresh air and to asses the situation, one of the girls (a bit older) walks over to me and asks me for a cigaret. I don’t smoke and it was clear that I wasn’t interested. She looked me over and unlike the hairdresser, and unlike the salesmen, it was clear she knew exactly where I was going nor did she ask. She said that I should stay safe, not take chances and that she appreciates what I’m doing…and then she offered me a “freebie”. I had to smile. Though I turned her down, just the fact that of the three people I met, she was the only one that didn’t say much, gave me a feeling that she cared and offered me a real “price break.” I felt like showing her how much I appreciated her few words and her offer and asked if she needed a ride anywhere, she answered that I could give her a ride home, which I did.
Well I’m not really sure Ben-Gurion was right.
Quoted in the book “The Billionaire’s Apprentice” by Anita Raghavan is David Ben-Gurion’s reported comment,
“When Israel has prostitutes and thieves, we’ll be a state just like any other.”
Quoted in the New York Times’ review of the book June 30.