Sarah Tuttle-Singer
A Mermaid in Jerusalem
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It’s getting real in Ramle

That magical place where Muslims, Christians and Jews all come together in harmony: the line at the pharmacy

Someone tried to cut me in line today while I waited too long with two kids in a too tiny pharmacy in Ramle. One kid was in my arms, licking my shoulder, while the other one was doing a twist and shout on the floor. People, it was 1985 all over again, and that child was BREAKDANCING, while a woman chuckled behind her Hijab.

I did what I had to do: I busted out the hand sanitizer and the Bamba, and she sat down.

“Anyone else want?” I asked the room.

Before I go any further, let me tell you about Ramle. Ramle is awesome. It’s a small city where Jews, Muslims, and Christians live and work and wait in line together like it ain’t no thang. There are no CNN news cameras here because let’s be real: coexistence is, like, super boring. And who cares that the best hummus in Israel is owned by a Christian guy named Samir, and the chef is Muslim, and the waitstaff are all Jewish, and that Muslims, Christians and Jews live alongside each other and share gripes about the city taxes, and sip spiced tea after the kids are asleep. Whatev.

Anyway, the pharmacy waiting room is a Ramle microcosm: Five observant Muslims, Four secular Israelis (Arab? Jewish? Who cares.) Three Haredim, Two Women from India with two matching bindis, and one Amerikayit (and her two kids) and a partridge in an olive tree.

It was almost our turn, when a woman in skinny jeans, a tank top and hooker boots with a little kid in tow cut strutted up to the cashier with her waving her prescription slip.

I gave her the “aw hell naw” look – not only was this chick jacking my STYLE, but believe you me, I would cut her before she cut me in line.

I went deep and busted out what can only be best described as Marisa Tomei (circa My Cousin Vinnie,) meets Ke$ha, meets Bette Davis. (Oh yeah. Bette Davis. Because $hit is getting real in Ramle.)

But before I get all Medieval, I want to be very clear: If her kid was crying or looking really sick, I wouldn’t have said anything. I would have let her cut me in line, no problemo, because I have BEEN there, and it sucks to be there. But that was so not the case.

“Excuse me, there’s a line,” I said in my best Hebrew, my accent muffled by my chewing gum and righteous indignation.

“But I have a kid,” she said.

“Yeah well, me too. And I’ve been waiting here 20 minutes.”

“Well, that’s your problem.”

“No, actually, it’s no one’s problem. But there IS a line, and you will get in it.”

At this point, the pharmacist pointed meaningfully at the at the number dispensing machine. “Take a number like everyone else,” he said in Hebrew thick with Russian.

“Just run your card through the machine and you’ll get a number,” the woman in the hijab said.

Yeah, that’s right. My Native American name in Israel is “She Who Defends The Line.” Because fair is fair, and you best believe, no one plays favorites in Ramle. We wait together til it’s our turn just like everybody else, but if you ask nicely, I just might share my hand sanitizer and Bamba with you.

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.
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