I’ve reached a new milestone. I’ve arrived. It is customary, respectful, and considered well-mannered here in Israel for one to relinquish one’s seat on the bus for an elderly man or woman, a pregnant woman or a woman travelling with a small child. I’ve often given up my seat for someone fitting any of those descriptions and our children do the same.
So, we were riding an extremely crowded, standing room only bus last night going to a bar mitzvah in Jerusalem. By standing room only I mean up close and personal with, well, the bus driver and with all the other squashed passengers standing on that bus. That poor bus driver. I mean, can you imagine driving a bus with college students half of whom were talking on their cell phones, standing practically in your face? I think the driver was sorry he didn’t call in sick that day! But I digress. Anyway, I was standing holding on for dear life and praying that I would arrive at my destination in one piece. A stop or two after I boarded the bus, some passengers got off so I was able to make my way to the middle of the bus to ‘relative’ safety. Suddenly I hear a young woman say: ‘G’veret, shvi’. (‘Ma’am, please sit). Was she addressing me? She couldn’t have been. I was fine. I often stand on buses. I turned to see a young college student, one of a group of friends stand to give me her seat. So she Was speaking to me! Her friends were also ready to relinquish their seats. I thanked her but said no, it was fine; I was getting off in two more stops. She didn’t hear me, I guess, because she remained standing, looking at me. I thanked her again and politely declined the offer.
Now the strange thing about this is that a similar thing happened to me the day before. And that’s not all. On the way home from the bar mitzvah, two guys, after seeing me, got up and gave us their seats. I was not traveling alone with a young child, and while I regrettably have gained some weight back, I don’t really think I look pregnant, and I don’t think (or at least didn’t until now) that I look old enough to be offered a seat in this tradition. But, much like beauty, I guess age is also in the eye of the beholder and to those youthful eyes on the bus, I must have appeared quite aged.
I’ve arrived. AARP anyone?