Now, when I go up to the offices, I take the train. It's temperature controlled, I don't have to worry about sitting in traffic, there are bathrooms on board, and since I get on at the first stop, I always get a seat. Sometimes it's even got an outlet so I can charge my phone. The big disadvantage is getting from the train station to the office. The scheduling is way off, and often not particularly convenient. But for the three or four times a year, I manage.
For the most part, the seats are arranged four around a table. Well-padded, often even have a middle arm rest, decent-ish amount of leg room. Well, for me, anyway. And yes, I'm short. When you are lucky enough to get a car with electrical plugs, it's only two per table, so that can be annoying if your laptop or cellphone is low on battery and your seatmates are already plugged in.
On this morning's ride, as we pull out of the Ashkelon station, an older man (OM1) sits in the seat diagonally from me in "my" quartet. Right across from me was a young Ethiopian woman in IDF uniform. And right next to me was another older man (OM2). I forget what sparked the beginning of the conversation, but by the time OM1 got off the train over an hour later, I knew quite a bit about his life and family, and he knew a bit about mine.
I knew he'd been a farmer all his life.
Right now he's only growing peaches and persimmons.
He used to grow apples as well, but with the import of Pink Ladies from the US, it's just not worthwhile.
Climate change is real.
His wife was an English teacher.
His wife is from South Africa.
He lived in SA for 6 months and moved back to Israel mainly because of antisemitism.
His family is from the UK, but he was born in Israel.
Much of his family left Poland during the 1930s.
He served in the IDF during the first Intifada and Lebanon Part I.
He has a son and daughter, and then his wife couldn't have more children because she had cysts on her ovaries and had to have them removed.
He's not religious at all, but all during his service and reserve duty, he carried his IDF-issued Psalms in his shirt pocket, just in case.
And a whole megillah of more information.
He got on, a total stranger. And I still don't know his name, and I can't remember what Moshav he lives on. But there's something about sharing a few square meters of space with other human beings for a couple hours. And maybe it's one of these "only in Israel" type of things. Yes, we're strangers. But genetically we're Jews, the three people (OM2 seemed rather put out that we were talking - not loudly, mind you) having a discussion were all immigrants or first-generation Israeli. And that commonality - Jewish-Israeli - immediately made us family.
Sure, we're a loud, obnoxious, frustrating, dysfunctional family.
So what insightful public transportation rides have you had?