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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Why Grandmothers and Others Tremp aka Hitchhike

Even bus stops aren't all that safe and comfortable, especially when you don't know when the bus will arrive.
One of the things that kept me from falling asleep last night was wondering what to blog here on Shiloh Musings this morning. I do try t keep my blogging topics varied and interesting and from a perspective you may not get anyplace else. I guess you'd call this one in the "not get anyplace else" category. How many retirement age grandmothers admit to hitchhiking besides yours truly?

It's not that I have anything against buses. There are times I really look forward to taking a bus for the comfort and quiet and chance to say my daily Tihillim Psalms or the Mincha Afternoon prayer. When my husband travels home, especially, heavy bags from the shuq, open air Machane Yehuda Market he has been known to wait hours for a bus to Shiloh rather than struggle with his bulky, heavy bags and tall frame in a small crowded car seat.

 Our buses do not stop
on the road.
Why would he be waiting so long when there are generally one or even two buses to Shiloh from Jerusalem when he's on his way home? Well, that's the schedule, but sometimes the buses just don't arrive. Apparently there aren't any spare buses. That means that the very impressive bus schedule that the "powers" worked out took for granted that no bus would ever break down, and all drivers would be in good health and show up as scheduled. Of course in the real world you need backup plans, and when you don't have good ones, innocent, trusting travelers are left in the cold. And we are also in a panic.
If we take another bus in order to get to a bus/hitchhiking stop will we see our bus passing and then miss it?
That's the "Murphy's Law" for travelers like us? If we take a ride to Ofra, we may have to run like mad, or end up missing the bus if it comes quickly. And if I take a ride to the Shiloh Junction, there is a bus stop, but few drivers pick up passengers there. A number of times I've ended up waiting either there or at the Shvut Rachel-Shiloh Junction where no bus stops at all.

So you must wonder why I tremp. First of all, you should know that most of the drivers are friends or very familiar people, considering that I've been living in Shiloh for over 34 years. I know lots of people from nearby communities and my work in Yafiz, Sha'ar Binyamin. We do quick profiling, as do the drivers.

I'll give an example of what happened to me the other day. I was on my way home and had taken the lightrail to Ammunition Hill, which is near Ramat Eshkol and French Hill, Jerusalem. From there I walked to the bus stop on the top of Eshkol Blvd. There was supposed to be a bus in a few minutes, so I waited, and I waited. And I didn't get on any of the buses that could easily have taken me to the "cityline," the border of Jerusalem, where there are buses and tremps. I was waiting for the bus that would take me just a few steps from my house. Yes, I have absolutely nothing against taking buses. But the bus never came. I was getting tired of standing, and if you're wondering about safety, there's no guarantee that standing there is any safer than standing at the "cityline."

Finally, when a bus to Ariel, which doesn't stop in Shiloh, came I got in. I was able to use my train ticket's free transfer which made the trip free until the Psagot/Tel Zion/Kochav Yaakov stop. But I got off at the "cityline." And just as I got off, a neighbor pulled up, so I got in, and someone told me that another neighbor was right behind her. She took me straight to my door. To me, that was the sign that I had done the right thing by tremping.

I think the bus came just a few minutes later, but since I had no idea it would be arriving at all, I think I did the smart thing. Too many times my husband reports that buses didn't show at all, and there's a limit to how long anyone should stand helplessly at a bus stop.

Yes, that's me at the "cityline." Those signs are no longer there, but cars still stop supplementing the bus service.


Anonymous said...

Fortunately for you, you know a lot of people. I stand at the outside of the yishuv in Ofra with many other commuters that tremp first thing in the morning and my big comfort is that there are usually soldiers there on the ready to protect us. But even then I think about the fact most days I have NO idea who I am in the car with. It seems crazy, but it is the norm, as you know when there are no other options. I tremp, in the morning because there simply is no bus to Shilo at 8:00am. If I am doing other things I can wait for the 9:00am bus, but otherwise that is an hour out of my day and unless I have good reason I don't want to wait.

We are fortunate that we can for the most part "bli eyein hara" tremp in safety and trust in our fellow travellers to get us at least to the safety of the Shilo tzommet, but on the flip side it shows the challenges we face everyday to get where we need to go.

Thanks for brining this up on your blog, because you know if it was the Palestinians National Geographic would have done an expose by now, but nothing we endure will ever grace their pages because it is "all our fault!"

All the best,

Batya Medad said...

Thanks for writing
I call it siyate diShmaya kaful, hand of Gd times two. First it is so miraculous just finding a ride and then we still need Gd's help ti have a safe trip.