We went to visit some friends for Shabbat. Since they don’t live in Jerusalem, we had to check when the last bus left. There was a bus at 15:30, 15:50, 16:15, and 16:45. We wanted to take the 15:30 bus. It didn’t happen.
Instead, we got to the Central Bus Station at 16:20, just in time to pick something up for our hosts (we hadn’t managed to bake something), take a few minutes to sit, and board the last bus to our destination. We saw the bus pull up and went out to meet it. We were among the first people to reach the bus, which meant that we would have our choice of seats and be able to sit together.
As we got on, the bus driver called out, “I’m going to Rishon L’Tzion, he’s (pointing to the bus to his right) going to Ramle.” He turns to each passenger and asks where they need to go, telling some of them to go to the other bus. I didn’t quite get it. And I was even more confused when he told someone that he’s not stopping at Mishmar Ayalon, because I know that that’s one of his stops. It’s true that as each passenger boards and pays, he tells the driver where he is headed and how many tickets he is buying, as well as whether or not he wants a round-trip ticket. But the bus driver was really into it, asking everybody ahead of time and repeating his announcements over and over.
Then the driver closed the door and started pulling away. As one last straggler ran to catch the bus, the driver opened the door and yelled out, “Leave with me, so you don’t get anyone who wants Rishon L’Tzion.”
What’s the number of the bus beside us?
Ahhh, it’s the same as ours. Why are there two buses with identical routes and numbers leaving at the same time? I have no idea.
But I do know what the driver was about: He and his friend decided that they wanted to finish their last route early that day and go home, and knew that the passengers also wanted to get where they were going faster. After all, it was only a few hours before Shabbat. So the two friends split the route between them, shortening both bus rides: The other bus would stop at every stop until Ramle, inclusive, and Ramle would be his last stop. Our bus would not stop until we passed Ramle, even though we were traveling an identical route, but on the other hand, it would go to the end of its route, dropping off everyone who was traveling past Ramle.
It took fifteen to twenty minutes off our ride. On the other hand, we went fast enough that Shlomo threw up – all over the nice young ladies opposite us who let him sit on their laps and “play” their game with them (translation: they played with him when he insisted on asking for their game).
Only in Israel . . .