Cutie Patootie


Yesterday evening Mark and I decided to go up the mountainside to the Merkaz, which literally means 'city center'. I needed to go to the pharmacy, Mark needed to take clothes to the dry cleaners and if we were going to do that we might as well grab some dinner, too.

So we headed out to the bus stop near our home. We waited a few minutes.

Now, we take public transportation here. Sometimes that means we take the bus (not crowded ones, though - and we've passed those up a couple of times), taxis and what are commonly known as 'sheruts'. A sherut is a van taxi that follows the bus route but lets you get on or off anywhere you like, not just the bus stops, and it can actually be the cheapest form of transportation at times.

When you take a sherut, you don't have to pay the driver as you get in. You can sit down, get your money out, pass it to the nearest person and they'll pass it forward so that it gets to the driver. The driver will then send you your change back via the same system. Usually it works. (and generally, the introvert that I am, I try to avoid sitting up front behind the driver because that means you have to communicate with him about where everyone is going - a time Hebrew would be a major advantage)

So, we were at the bus stop. Knowing that the bus we wanted wouldn't be along for a while, when a sherut bearing the same number came by, we took it. We got in and went all the way to the back, as that was the only place where two seats were available next to each other. I got NIS20* out and started it on its passageway forward.

By now you're wondering why on earth I chose the title I did, no?

Mark handed it to the lady in front of him, indicating it was for two people. This meant I should get NIS10 back. The lady was with a young girl, no more than 8 or 9 years old. She handed the young girl the NIS20 bill and told her to pay. At first she just handed it to the lady in front of her, but her mother/aunt/grandmother/babysitter told her to hand it to the driver directly, which she did.

She got the NIS10 coin back from the driver. And returned to her seat. Heeheehee. End of story - or so she thought. She was going to keep the change! So cute. The poor lady she was with was so embarrassed. Mark and I couldn't stop laughing. She told the girl to apologize to us, I think, but the sweet thing was so embarrassed herself at this point that we didn't see her face again until she was off the sherut.

I turned to Mark and said, "Oh this one is definitely going on the blog!"

*NIS stands for "new Israeli shekel" which seems to have been what it's been called for quite some time. There are about 4 1/2 shekels to the dollar.


In GAmbia they are known as Bush Taxis. I loved them. You can meet the most interesting people in bush taxis.

Except, I have a feeling that a sherut is much more civilized than a bush taxi. Unless, of course, you call Raphael for a sherut, whom I boycott. They're 'unofficial' sheruts which are filthy and when I took one (once only) the back door flew open as we were driving and the back seat - the one Mark and I were sitting in - started to lurch out. And yes, I said we were moving. I was furious, and even more so when people STILL choose to call him so that everyone can save NIS2 - yes 2 shekels. Drr.

We have rickshaws, and entire villages cram into them. It's amazing. Ok, not villages, but entire families. The most people that I've had in the back seat with me: 3 others. That's roomy in comparison to what many people will do.

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This page contains a single entry by Mara published on June 23, 2005 12:28 PM.

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