Big hurdle forded yesterday. Ira and I successfully passed our driving tests. You may wonder? You had to take a driving test? Well, according to local lore, after the 'Russians came,' this to be compared with my Mother's line of after the 'Hungarians came,' (explain: post-world war II, the Hungarians who had survived in greater numbers, even though Hitler did his best to kill off as many as he could despite the fact that it was '44, arrived in NYC, they brought with them their more uptight version of kashrut and observance and according to my mother and grandmother z"l, that's when heckhshered cheese first showed up - in the '50's perhaps. Ask Danny Magill for more information.)
Anyway, when the Russians came enmasse, it became apparant that driving laws/testing was even more problematic there than here where driving is quite the sport - people are killed more on the roads than in wars - and they tightened the rules so that every new immigrant has to at least take a lesson and a test in order to be licensed. Use to be, you just brought your American license down and got switched. My parents were the last to be able to do that. In typical Israeli fashion, you have to go for a very intense eye test (no standing and reading the letters at the DMV) and then, of course, to the doctor (such a bore), and then, down to the DMV type of office for your forms to be stamped and such many times and they make note of where your license came from, etc...then, you get to take your lesson and test.
We had been given the name of this guy, David, who is clearly making a killing helping nervous immigrants go through this process. He picks up your papers, gets them to the appropriate offices and then, calls you to schedule your lesson/test, drives you back and forth to the testing area and generally, holds your hand (he patted my head but at least he's over 70) and tells you it will all be fine - this for 400nis or about $100, which is alot of money considering that a regular lesson is about nis100. But we went with it because of all the horror stories - like Alan Salzberg failing the first time. Also, we had waited until the umpteenth moment to do this. You have 3 years to do the test but if you don't pass by the end of the first year, you can't drive until you pass. Some disagree with this, some say you'll just get ticketed if you get caught but there it is.
It was Tisha ba'av/fast day for commemorating the destruction of the 2nd Temple a loooong time ago (you know Jews and their long memories). Light traffic. Auspicious day. I had my lesson at 7:50 with Bob Carroll (went to Brandeis, knows Simcha boy back when he was Fred), and it should be added that Ira and I were making our lives marginally more difficult by doing the test in stick. We both drive stick and in this country, typically, you have to pass the test for stick in order to drive both types. If you pass just automatic then you can't drive a stick. Rediculous I know. Actually, maybe it's not so rediuclous but it's amazing to think that they're so stringent but nobody drives well anyway. One theory we have is that they make you drive so slowly and carefully, that nobody is ever trained to deal with normal road conditions. Also, I think that they are patriarchal to the women and make them nervous so many of the bad driving one sees is by women and then men drive as if they own the road and EVERYONE tailgates which is a major cause of accidents.
We each had our lessons. I, of course, had to go inside btw lessons bec of babysitter handoff since Akiva wasn't in school yesterday, and have my stomach be so upset and nervous that I ate a cracker and drank water (so much for fasting but I'm not a great TB faster to begin with) before I went back into the car for the rest of Ira's lesson (of course the teacher said nothing to Ira about anything - at least not the way he lectured me about road rules and of course, Ira was cool as a cucumber).
The tester entered the car. Nice guy. Ira started and drove, and I kid you not, maybe 4 minutes before being asked to pull over to the right (I thought he had done something wrong but nooo....) and then, I went (I told Bob, our new bff, that I had to go next or die of nervousness) and I drive for perhaps 3 minutes, and finally, Bob, who took us back the driving test offices. And that was it. We passed. For this I had to eat my kishkes out? And what a scam really. Thank goodness I'm not like my niece Elisheva, who's failed 4x and has put so much money into her lessons that it's just absurd. She can drive but they keep failing her on odd technicalities and just to keep getting the money - you have to take 28 lessons just to take the test the first time if you're a new driver and then each time you fail, you have to take a few more and then if you fail a certain amount of times you're really screwed. Natan says he'll never do it.
On to the next adventure.
Natan has arrived back in country. Oh happy day.
33 minutes ago