Yesterday, while driving to a special course in the north, Elie received a phone call from one of the other participants in the Commanders Course telling him (as the soldier responsible for knowing where everyone is) that the soldier had forgotten his backpack on a bus. He was calling to tell Elie that he was going to try to catch another bus to catch up with his backpack.
Elie gave him permission simply by telling him to update him to let him know what was happening. In yet another very Israeli story -after the phone call, the soldier jumped on the next bus and explained to the driver what had happened. Soldiers get free buses and trains to almost anywhere in Israel and so they don't hesitate or worry about the number of rides they take.
When the driver heard the story, he quickly radioed ahead to the bus in front, telling him about the soldier's backpack. The bus promptly pulled to the side of the road and waited for the second bus to catch up so that the soldier's backpack could be returned safely.
There are so many stories like this in Israel. Recently, a young child fell asleep on the bus ride home from school. He woke up, looked around, and realized he had missed his stop. Suddenly frightened, the young child started to cry, at which point other passengers asked what happened and alerted the bus driver. Without hesitation, the bus driver turned the bus around and took the boy to his stop. He then turned the bus around again, and continued along his route.
Another "famous" bus story had to do with one of Israel's leaders. When the bus driver realized that a former prime minister had boarded his bus, he insisted on driving the astonished leader to his doorstep, even though it was off the usual bus route. Embarrassed at the attention, the leader tried to argue with the bus driver, but the applause of the people on the bus made it clear that they agreed with the driver.
The drivers yesterday, the one who called and the one who stopped, might not have had to turn a bus around for this soldier, but certainly they warmed his heart by making sure he and his backpack were reunited. With their help, the soldier quickly retrieved his property, jumped on another bus in the opposite direction, and was barely late for the start of the day's activities.
Elie told me this story as if it was something natural and logical but I found it enchanting and just one of the many reasons why I'm so happy to live in this country.