Thursday, April 28, 2011

"If You See Something, Say Something"- NYC MTA campaign slogan

The Egged version of that statement is something like, "נא לסרוק מושבך ולדווח על כל חצף חשוד." ["Please check around your seat and report any suspicious object."]

There's a story that my mom has told me about when she came back from Israel and went to do shopping and wasn't able to carry all the stuff in at once so she left it by the elevator or door or something-- basically, she wasn't around it. She was worried that someone might see it and call the police. And then she realized that she was in America, where nobody cares if there is a bag lying around with no one around.

In Israel you are taught (trained) from a very young age to be aware of your surroundings. If there is a bag just sitting there-- be aware of it. Ask the people around you if it's theirs; if it's not-- call the police and get away-- fast. Many times it's just a bag that someone accidentally left. Or a box that someone left and didn't put in the garbage. But no one is taking a chance-- it's really, "See something, say something." Today on my bus there was a bag (note: Israeli city buses have a space by one of the doors that's technically for wheelchairs, but people use it more for carriages and big packages/bags) in the wheelchair section, strapped in. It must have been there for a while even though people were getting on and off. All of a sudden, a stop before Machane Yehuda the driver gets on the loudspeaker and starts yelling something-- unintelligible, of course, and about 5 seconds in people start getting up and getting off the bus. Immediately you know that there's something wrong and it's not a problem with the electrical system on the bus. It turned out to be the bag of someone who doesn't really speak Hebrew and she didn't understand what the driver was saying until people started getting off the bus and someone told her.

You know-- I didn't even feel any kind of adrenaline flow. It was just...that's life in Israel. A chefetz chashud (pronounced with a hard "ch," like challah or Chanukah)-- suspicious object-- is just part of life here. Thank G-d it was someone's bag from shopping. Welcome to Israel.

(on a side note, if the object is not claimed, as happens as well, the police clear the area, block off the street, and bring in a robot to safely detonate the chefetz chashud.)

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