Sarah Tuttle-Singer
A Mermaid in Jerusalem

Happy Nation

I know three things for certain: I love my coffee hot. I love my scotch smoky. And I love when the taxi driver is rocking out to Ace of Base on the first Tuesday afternoon of 2018.

He cranks up the song “happy nation, living in a happy nation” — yeah, the song I listened to in fifth grade on the little black transistor radio my parents gave me for Hanukkah — and he sings along.

“Nu what do the Swedes know about happy nation?” He says. “How can you be happy when it’s so cold and dark? They should come to Tel Aviv and drink coffee and see the sexy girls at the beach even in December,” he takes his hands off the wheel and mimes a bootylicious silhouette. “THIS is a happy nation! Why why why!”

I say nothing.

“Startup nation, shmartup nation – Waze shmaze.  Give  me sunshine, give me beautiful women, give me beaches, give me coffee, give me a good party, you know?  In Thai Land, ok, or maybe at the Dungeon?  You been there? It’s a club in Yafo.”

I shake my head.

“Happy nation, WE are living in a happy nation.  Not them!  Us!  Ok fine we have wars,” he continues. “We have terror and I can’t afford to buy an apartment and I’m working two jobs but…” he points outside where the sun is pouring through a break in the clouds, and the White City gleams like seashells.   “I mean, come on! Look at this place! God’s land! Not that I believed in God, God forbid, but I believe in this!  In a happy nation!”

Outside the window, a mother holds a sleeping baby, and there’s a little girl with a balloon skipping along beside her.

A guy on a bicycle cuts in front us off and the taxi driver rolls down his window “hey fuck you!” He yells.

He cranks up the volume.

Happy nation living in a happy nation.

“Hey, Mami, don’t forget to give me 5 stars on Get Taxi.”

He leans on the horn.


About the Author
Sarah Tuttle-Singer is the author of Jerusalem Drawn and Quartered and the New Media Editor at Times of Israel. She was raised in Venice Beach, California on Yiddish lullabies and Civil Rights anthems, and she now lives in Jerusalem with her 3 kids where she climbs roofs, explores cisterns, opens secret doors, talks to strangers, and writes stories about people — especially taxi drivers. Sarah also speaks before audiences left, right, and center through the Jewish Speakers Bureau, asking them to wrestle with important questions while celebrating their willingness to do so. She loves whisky and tacos and chocolate chip cookies and old maps and foreign coins and discovering new ideas from different perspectives. Sarah is a work in progress.