the 90th minute

Until September 2007, when my oldest daughter was born, this blog covered daily life and politics in Israel, as well as Hebrew-English linguistic issues, from the perspective of an American-raised journalist and translator living in Israel. Now it mostly serves as the SmunchMonk&Bear news agency, a portal into the bizarre universe of the little people. Read more at:

Monday, September 11, 2006

It was in my cab

This blog was first posted May 19, 2005, on Haaretz Underground.

It's not hard to knock Israeli cab drivers.

One of them recently told me he could get me to my destination faster if I would only agree on a fare instead of the (legal and inevitably cheaper) meter; when I challenged him, he insisted that there was no faster route. Another taxi driver once generously offered to charge me NIS 40 for a NIS 10 ride.

Basically, I'm at the point where if I get a cabbie who turns on the meter without my asking, gets me where I want to go and gives me my change (taxi drivers don't get tipped here), I feel privileged to have been driven by such a paragon of virtue.

But watch out, cab drivers: The bar has risen.

This week I was minding my own business at Yo-Ja, an Asian restaurant in Jerusalem's German Colony (recommended for carnivores dining with vegetarians, as this place has plenty of options for both), when two American girls entered the outdoor section, all the way at the back of the restaurant. They were there for only a few minutes when, lo and behold, an Israeli man made his way to their table. It was the taxi driver who had dropped them off a short time before, making his way through the entire eatery to find his former passengers.

Brandishing a key, he handed it to one of the girls, saying only, "It was in my cab."

The girl, too astonished to reply, stared at it openmouthed. I don't think she had even realized her key was missing.

And the hero of our story? His righteous deed accomplished, my new favorite cab driver turned around and drove off into the night. I wonder if he turned on the meter.


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