Wisdom from a Broken Engine

After writing an entry about spiritual issues, I’ll now provide a look into our more mundane dealings in Israel.  

Last week our car engine died and Eric has been giving his Hebrew a workout in trying to speak with the towing company and the mechanic at the garage. It all happened during a drive we took to Beit She’an and the Gilboa region on Thursday. We had a swell time checking out the ancient ruins at Beit She’an and admiring the beauty of the Gilboa (it’s more of a ridge than a mountain). But there was one hill in the Gilboa that we went a tad too fast on, and we went too quickly over these stupid grates that are supposed to slow your car down, but are also potential sources of damage to the car. And damage the car they did. Yeah you gotta love those grates.

Soon after that, as we were on the way to see our cousins in Zichron Ya’akov, we saw the oil lamp light up. Then smoke started coming out of the back of the tailpipe. That wasn’t a good sign. Coincidentally we had ended up in a town called Kiryat Tivon, not very far from where Eric’s cousin Etamar’s grandmother and parents lived. We parked the car near a home for senior citizens and enlisted the assistance of one of the women who worked there. First she told us where we were located–so we could tell the tow truck of where to pick us up. Then she helped us find the name of our towtruck company and also talked to them for us.

Meanwhile Etamar advised us to drive the car to his grandmother’s house where it could be towed. He would then pick us up and take us to the train station. Holding our breath the whole time, we drove the car to his grandmother’s house (while it continued to smoke out the back). Israeli drivers continued to signal to us that we had a problem with our car (we know, we know, we just need to drive a few lousy km!) We made it to the house, but just barely. Etamar’s grandmother, Toni, made us coffee and brought out some cake and apologized profusely since she was hosting her friends over for a game of cards. ‘You’re family now!’ she said after we thanked her for taking us in.

Etamar picked us up a few minutes later and took us to the train station later that evening. Once again we were beholden to our cousins for helping us out of a jam. Honestly, we bought the car so we wouldn’t have to be ferried around, but now the car became the reason why we had to be schlepped around! It really could have ended a lot worse–to think that we were only a few km from his grandmother’s house whereas we could have been stuck in a lot of other bad places!

We took the train to Tel Aviv and from Tel Aviv we took the bus to Jerusalem where we grabbed a taxi home. We were so tired that we allowed ourselves to be exorbitantly overcharged by the taxi driver who drove so fast that I thought I was going to die. We climbed into bed past midnight and happily bid farewell to a tumultuous day.

The important thing is that we got home in one piece. We’ll have to sink some money into the repairs, but the experience has made us all the wiser—both about how to drive the car without having it fall apart on us and how to deal with a situation where your car falls apart in Israel. Certainly handling these types of emergency situations are exacerbated by the fact that we are not fluent in the language. But if we didn’t ever end up in these type of situations, we wouldn’t ever become fluent. Wisdom and understanding often comes through stumbling along a rough path.

And I realized that while mastering the situation is an important part of the process, it’s just as important to acknowledge when matters are not in your control and to be okay with not always having complete control.

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