I’ve spent a great deal of time on buses in this country in my fifteen years here. When I was a kid they used to blow up a lot. That was kinda scary. Nowadays it’s a whole different kind of fear. As a veteran of the public transportation system I felt obliged, now that M. and I finally bought a used car, to share with you, dear reader, my twenty gems of wisdom for surviving a (secular) bus ride in this country.
1. The front seats are for the elderly and, as it turns out, dumbass chicks with bleached blonde hair, fake nails and nine inch heels who think they’re so fucking hot that sitting in the back would expose them to undue harassment. And really religious Haredim of any age. And the occasional foreign worker. But seriously, if you’re sitting up front and an elderly person arrives please give up your seat. Don’t wait for them to ask. Just get up. Unless they’re offended because they’re not old. In that case duck. Same rule applies for pregnant women. But make sure they’re pregnant first and not obese. That could be awkward.
2. Formulate any questions you may have for the driver regarding the route of the bus in a yes/no fashion. Any undue inquiries requiring elaboration of any kind will be met with a door slamming in your face. After all they have to drive the bus, give you change, watch the road, unbutton the first two buttons on their stained shirt and listen to Mizrahi music all at the same time.
3. Always wait at the stop. Even if it is 40 degrees Celsius and you’re off in the shade. The bus won’t stop. Don’t try running after it and banging on the side either. If it does stop don’t complain about how long you’ve waited. Or how pathetic the bus system is in this country. Or how stupid the driver is. Or how much he resembles a baboon. They don’t like that.
4. Disregard any sign about propping your feet on the seat opposite you. Fuck it. That seat is meant for your dirty ass shoes.
5. Always look away and mumble to yourself incoherently if someone wants the seat next to you. If possible sit by the aisle and rock back and forth. If possible, avoid showering and deodorant for a few days. That person can sit elsewhere. The seat next to you is for your bag.
6. If the bus is crowded and you’re standing above a woman whose cleavage is visible don’t wink at her. Same rule applies to a woman sitting opposite you with her panties visible. This one is worth repeating.
7. Never get a Rav Kav card. Ever. Somebody somewhere is tracking your movements. Fuck Big Brother. The TV show too.
8. If a group of kids are in the back blasting some awful Mizrahi music please don’t get all Chuck Norris on them. Just stare at them and shake your head in disapproval. Then tell your wife that “Kids today have no respect for anything”. Same rule applies if they’re smoking electronic cigarettes, laughing too loudly or just plain reminding you of how old and washed up you are. You would kick their ass. You would. But you don’t condone violence.
9. Never make any medical or psychological observations to other passengers after eavesdropping on their extremely loud, extremely sensitive and personal conversations. This one is a big no no. Nor should you read their Facebook updates or SMS messages. Or emails.
10. If you don’t speak Hebrew learn one word for the bus. “Nahag”! It means driver and it is customary to scream it when you’re standing in the back and he refuses to open the door at your stop. Repeated a few times followed by some choice words like “Yalla, ya Ben Zona” or “Nu Kvar ya Maniac” will finally prompt him to open the door.
11. Eat MacDonalds. Eat shawarma. Eat whatever the fuck smells awful and makes every single passenger want to blow chunks. It’s OK. Nobody minds. Just make sure to close all the windows.
12. Put your fucking cigarette in your mouth five minutes before you get off the bus. It will save you at least ten seconds once the doors open.
13. Ask for a second and third opinion on when you should get off for the Tachana Mercazit. You never know who is lying to you and who is telling you the truth.
14. Hold on tight. Regardless of whether you’re standing or sitting.
15. Don’t try and wake up sleeping soldiers. Or drunk Russians. Trust me on this one.
16. Make direct eye contact with your fellow passengers. As a matter of fact stare at them. Even if the person isn’t sitting right across from you. Even if they look angry. Especially if they look angry. This will effectively demonstrate that you “see” them. Make sure not to blink.
17. Feel free to cough, drool and spit on other passengers. We are all brothers and sisters us Jews. We love sharing bodily fluids with each other on a daily basis.
18. Please leave your chewing gum on the seat or on the floor of the bus. It’s customary. Failure to do so will result in a fine by the Transportation Authority.
19. Bus routes change. Frequently. And so do the drivers. Make sure you know the route so as to instruct him should he get lost.
20. Never wear heavy clothing, sweat profusely or look disoriented. It raises red flags. Never, ever praise Allah either.
I hope that I am able, in my own way, to contribute to your safe public transportation experience. Should you make it to your destination, consider it a miracle.