Israel Stories

Sunday, May 21, 2006

The Highwayman

I dialed *147 or whatever it was and they told me to go to the office of highway and road repairs.

Mr. Extraordinarily Long Nose Hair sat on the corner of his desk excavating his huge cavernous nose. “Er, excuse me, sorry to disturb you, are you in charge of roadway repairs?” “No,” he barked rather nasally, obviously with one stubby finger blocking a nostril, he was probably in charge of archeology. “Can you tell where the office for road repairs is, please?” He looked at me with a ‘for crying out loud I am very busy’ look and with his free hand pointed down a long corridor.

What I didn’t realize was he was pointing down a long corridor out of the building, round the corner down the road, to a new building where the office for roadway repairs was located on the second floor at the end of another long corridor.

I knocked on the door. Inexplicably, the same man stood in front of me, still digging for gold in his long nose. You know your head’ll cave in if you carry on, thankfully I only thought, mouth clammed shut.

Without asking how he had made it to this office before me, I started to tell him of the problems with a road near my house that had been damaged by an overweight truck.

“What number ticket have you got?” he asked. “What ticket?” I asked. “When you were in the other building there was a sign which advised you to take a ticket and await your number. When your number comes up you can then ask your question.” I am going to kill this man, I thought. I ran back to the other building, got my ticket, found the number display and waited. Half an hour later I realized it was broken.

I ran back to Nose Man and told him that the ticket machine was broken. I showed him my ticket and he asked me to wait in the corridor outside his office. Another twenty minutes went by as I stood and watched him drilling for oil in his nose. I was certain he would rupture something and waited for the large spurt of blood. It never came.

He walked to the door and asked me what I wanted. I told him the problem. He asked me to fill out a form, asking for my name, address, mothers maiden name, ID number, education, army service record, criminal record and of course credit card details. I mentioned this might be the wrong form. He looked at it said “just fill in your name, address and phone number and give it back”.

After doing this he opened up a large filing cabinet and withdrew a huge folder with, what seemed to be, several thousand forms similar to mine. He motioned that I should sit at his desk. He opened the folder, placed my paper on top of the others, closed the folder and replaced it in the cabinet.

Now what seems to be the problem?” “Well because of building work I think several trucks have ruined the road surface and it’s become dangerous.” “Danger!” he cried “Danger!” He jumped up from his desk and for a split second I naively thought something truly remarkable would happen, he would deal with the situation. But of course life isn’t like that, not here in the Holy Land.

“Here,” he said passing me a piece of paper, “call *147 and tell them what the problem is.”


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