“There’s no one in charge here.”
The man with an orange vest yells back at me when I demand to speak to his manager at the Corona testing site. My three kids have been sitting in the car for an hour. We’ve watched people drive on sidewalks, cars almost hit trucks face on, and practically melted from the endless summer heat.
And the orange vest man wasn’t just talking about the testing site.
Who is in charge?
There’s no planning. There’s no respect. And now for me there’s no tests.
I rushed out of work, through crazy pre-holiday traffic, picked up three kids and got to the testing site 20 minutes before it closed. But as the cars lined up, further and further back down the road, I knew we were closer to chaos than to a swab up my kids’ noses.
As we inched forward, listening to a song, literally mocking my every move: “Are we there yet? Not Yet. Are we there yet? Not yet.” Just two cars ahead of me and they closed the gates.
I am a parent that has lived through almost two years of messy, tragic, ugly, Corona. This time last year, if you lived in Israel, then you lived in your Lockdown cell. Dip your honey through the bars, don’t worry because nothing sticks: not the rules, not the government, not even the past.
Bennett and his buddies all cheer hooray, we didn’t lock them down this holiday season. Let them celebrate the new year, like fools, thinking this year there will be freedom. But if you are a parent, in this testing line, or in another — or creating a budget from your salary, which has been cut in half by quarantines, for home tests, then you know this isn’t any better than a lockdown.
So what would you do, if you had two more cars to go and three kids in the back and if you don’t get this test than zero time to be with your family in synagogue in the Jewish state celebrating the Jewish new year? Would you fight the man? Would you get out of your car, first calm and collected and ask to speak to a manager? Cause that’s what I did.
And that’s when I was told there’s no one in charge.
And yet, there are police suddenly ready to protect who, or what?
For a moment I think, here we can do this together. Let’s show the world the true Jewish peoplehood. Let’s open the gates and let the parents and the children, who have been through so much, let’s give them a chance to get tested, to be able to enjoy just a few days with each other. And I really believed these were the true heroes.
But you don’t.
You’ve watched too much Netflix in quarantine. You’ve read too many headlines. And seen too many government officials break their own rules.
And sadly, you are right.
The police officer told me to leave. The man in the orange vest, and his buddies, standing around doing nothing, smoking and watching me like I’m my own series on Netflix (how many times have you felt this way in the last two years?), start laughing at my suffering.
I yell with my loud American accent, but in actual Hebrew sentences:
You have a chance to be a good person. A hero. To do the right thing.
I am a mother with three kids in the back seat.
I got here on time and waited.
I want to go to synagogue with my kids.
And you can help me.
But he turns away and tells me to leave now.
I get louder. I think my accent even gets worse.
I tell him he should be ashamed of himself. He is not protecting anyone. His uniform means nothing.
And he tells me I have five minutes before he gives me a ticket or arrests me.
My kids yell through the window, a ticket for what?
Another mother gets out of her car, and clearly knows from my accent to gently speak to me in broken English.
She says: You are right. But we have nothing to win here. We lost the fight.
I know there are other parents, as angry as me, but maybe not as crazy, who wanted to win today.
To have a chance to pick up the pieces of who we once thought we were, and somehow become a better version of ourselves, even now.
There was no Corona test for them. The only one tested was me.
Tested by society.
I got back in my car and drove away. Even though I wanted to break through the gates.
She’s right, the other mother, I suppose. We lost the fight. I lost control. But they lost their people.