International Transition Take 2 – Classic Israeli Airport Encounter

I have just arrived at Ben Gurion Airport. As I am lugging my two suitcases toward an escalator, a hefty middle-aged man intervened. Looking straight at me with a non-friendly, insistent voice, he said something quickly in Hebrew and pointed to the escalator.

“Slicha, aval ani lo mitaber Ivrit. Mitaber Anglit?” I spit out in my best attempt to remember a language I had utterly failed to master 4 years ago. (I THINK I was saying “Sorry bud, but I don’t speak Hebrew. Do you speak English?)

So he said it again in English. “Don’t take the escalator with those suitcases. Take the elevator which is over there, around the corner. Don’t you know that it’s dangerous to use the escalator!”

What do I do? I say “B’seder (OK), and follow his instructions.

But then, as I’m inside the elevator after pushing the up button, I think, “What the heck is he talking about? People take luggage on escalators all the time. What chutzpah for him to say that!”

But then I think, “Wait, maybe he is just a guy with good intentions. He doesn’t want me to hurt myself.” I get off the elevator after a safe 20ft trip.

But then I think, “Does he go around monitoring others behavior all the time? What right does he ahve to pronounce unrequested judgments upon them? And doing so, even with the best of intentions, why does he do it with an absolutely arrogant and barrier-crushing manner?”

And then I think, “Of course he does. He’s an Israeli.”


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