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The Damsel in Distress
The Distressing deTale

As I get older [losing my hair] I find myself becoming more intolerant. Not, mind you, was I ever the most tolerant of creatures to roam the earth. But as I meet people with the most ludicrous ideas and most ridiculous actions, I begin to wonder whether we are really fellow travelers, or we just happen to be on the same bus, very different destinations on our itineraries.

I am more saddened when these people are living here in Israel. Those who refuse to come home -- like a bit less than half of our compatriots, many of who prefer to refer to themselves as co-religionists rather then seeing themselves as part of the Jewish nation, with its own unique destiny -- choose to remain in a diaspora, today of their own creation.

I want to see us all together in a modern, moral society, certainly the Divine aim of us living here.

And before you accuse me sermonising the impossible, I am aware of the necessities and realities of life today.

I wish to relate one small incident earlier this week.

As I do each day, I come out of the swimming pool/gym complex into the car park, turn right and walk towards my car, some eighty metres yonder. Parking in the pool carpark is nose in at about 60°. You don't need a protractor to assist in parking your car as lines are clearly marked on the road. You drive straight in as you arrive; on leaving, you must back out carefully.

I notice that the car parked next to mine is parked rear to the curb. I won't say that, in the ten or more years since the current arrangement overtook a previous road design, I have never seen someone do this . . . but it did strike me as odd. It is a difficult, though not impossible manoeuvre, leaving, as the carpark surrounds a one way street, so facing forwards leaves you basically pointing in the wrong direction.

As I get closer I see that the driver's door is wide open, and the driver is speaking on her cellphone, engine silent. I recognise her as a neighbour from the next street.

I am nearly at my car and realise that she will have to close her door for me to be able to reach mine. At first she doesn't react to my approach and I aggressively think to myself, "I'll show her and bang her door shut for her".

But no need. I am stunned as I approach, because, while I have known her for twenty-five years, we've never been close, just courteous. She shuts her phone and steps out of her car to greet me. I rub my eyes.

"Can you jump-start my car? I was just talking to my neighbour and he's on his way over here to start me. But if you can do it, I'll call him and tell him not to come. I really should learn how to do this myself."

"No problem" as I get into my car and begin manoeuvring my vehicle into position. She phones the neighbour.

Two things spring to mind. One, it's lucky she parked in this strange fashion, because had she parked normally, facing the retaining wall, it may have been more difficult to reach her battery to jump it (though I was by chance in the adjacent spot).

Second, that's really nice of her neighbour to drop everything and drive over here, close to ten minutes away and help this damsel in distress.

I show her where the battery is located in her car and explain how one must take great care to connect positive to positive, negative to negative. We connect up. "Start your car." She turns the ignition.

"Click. Click." Nothing.

I notice my battery contacts are a little corroded, give them a scrape with connector, and clip on again. "OK. Give it another go."

"Click. Click. Brrrrrrrmm!"


"Thanks. I should drive around for half an hour to charge up the battery, right?"

"Yes, definitely, or take it straight to one of the two service centres between the pool and home."

"But I don't really have time", indicating she would drive directly home.

She almost didn't give me time to get my car out of her way as she sped off, trying to overtake as she did, eventually passing me on the highway. I caught up to her coming into Efrat.

It was only then that I realised what this woman was all about.

Her car didn't start that morning, probably some time around eight thirty. So she went next door on a damsel in distress mission. The nice guy next door spends ten or fifteen minutes getting his car into position to jump her. (Was she in the street or nose into the driveway by her house?)

He obviously tells her to drive around for half an hour, and I assume to park outwards in case there was repeat performance by her vehicle. But she's got to get to the pool, NOW. (At the time I found her, fifteen minutes of ladies' swimming time still remained -- she had ample time to drive and recharge fully before her dip.)

So, after not doing what she is told, she has the audacity to expect him to drop whatever he is doing, a second time, at nine-thirty something in morning, and come and jump her again.

And because she is still in a rush now, she will call on him again, a third time, when she wants to again use her car.

Or maybe he'll just be kind enough to drive her car over to the service centre and arrange her replacement battery -- while she attends to important things.


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