Traffic jam for a coffee

September 27, 2007

I was sitting at my favorite street cafe the other day when I noticed someone park on the street in front of the cafe, buy a coffee and sit on a bench to drink it. The crazy thing is that this guy parked ON the street. It wasn’t a parking spot. He literally blocked a lane of traffic on the very busy small-middle-part of Rothschild Boulevard to get a coffee. But he didn’t just want coffee, he sat down on a bench to drink it while other drivers were swerving their cars around his. I was so stunned that I took to the street with my cell phone to document the event. click to see each picture bigger

The car

The parked car

Behind the car

The guy sipping coffee while his car is parked IN the street

A jam

One of the many traffic accidents narrowly avoided as his car sits there

The dude

The dude (Israeli)

Driving in Israel, Part II

September 26, 2007

As a follow up to my original post, I wanted to update our faithful readers. The other day I was sitting at a stop light in Jerusalem. There was a long line of traffic — it’s one of those pain in the ass lights that ALWAYS has a line of traffic backed up.

So I’m sitting there.

And sitting there.

I check rear view mirror.

Note the traffic behind me.

I inch forward.

We sit.

Sit a little more.


I got hit. How does one get hit when we’re all just sitting? I get out of the car and the other driver gets out…

“Ha kol beseder (Everything is fine),” he states. Not a question. A statement. Gee thanks, asshole, for letting me know that my car and my body are both FINE after you HIT ME while we’re all just SITTING at a light. I checked the bumper. There was a scratch on my brand new car. Not horrible but I did NOT want some jerk telling me that I’m ok. I told him it’s not ok. משטרה

I do a double take. It’s a cop.

People…I got hit at a stop light by a cop. I swear it. And the cop tried to tell me that I’m ok. I was so shocked, I lost all my Hebrew and just stared at him as though he was an alien. Meanwhile the traffic STILL hasn’t moved and we’re all STILL sitting in the same spots.

I took his license plate number and got in my car.

Who do you call when it’s the cops who have hit you!?

Udi Manyak’s Guide to Not Being a Frier Tip #25: Driving Etiquitte

August 15, 2007

Maybe it’s because I spent most of the day driving doing last-minute errands before I leave for a couple weeks; maybe Shirat HaSirena inspired me with her inaugural post in what promises to be a helluva series on the driving around here.

In any case, I saw some f’d up shit the last couple days. So, I figured I’d come up with a few simple rules that I (obviously) should be practicing:

1. When approaching a traffic light on a multi-lane highway with one or more left turn lane: If the turn lanes are annoyingly backed up, go ahead and block whichever lanes you need to and squeeze in at the front of the line. Observe:


Don’t worry, the people behind you can just dangerously whip out into the quickly moving non-turn lanes (and it’s their fault for not leaving a good 8 or 9 lanes distance between that nasty backed-up turn lane).

2. Further to Rule #1, people behind you don’t really matter. They may not even exist — you’ve read Descartes, haven’t you? If you need to stop to unload something on a small, one-lane street, don’t bother pulling off to the side and lose those critical seconds (and risk being late to your hummus bath and/or matkot practice). Just stop, and take your time:


The only thing more annoying than the guy’s lame excuse for why he’s deliberately blocking traffic here is the incessant honking that ensued as a result. Which brings me to Rule #3…

3. Honk early and often. I can’t stress that enough — nothing helps clear that jammed up commute or moves a stalled car better than honking like a psychopath. Again, the pedestrians to whom its the most jarring and caustic sound possible *may not even exist.* It’s your right, no, your obligation to break the Israeli no-honking-within-city-limits law at least 90,394 times a day. Tel Aviv is a better place because of all your contributions to its colorful soundscape.

4. Never go through with any decision you’ve made in traffic should it prove inconvenient. This one’s a bit more subtle, and I wish I had the sense of mind to photograph the following two examples when they occurred, both in the last 48 hours:

a) If you suddenly realize, halfway through an intersection, that the lane you’re in is — by no fault of your own — a turn lane, go ahead and stop in the middle of the intersection. DO NOT GO THROUGH WITH YOUR TURN. You might have to actually go with the flow of traffic (frier’im!) and turn around where it’s safe to do so: that’s crazy talk.

b) On a highway on-ramp, if you see that the highway you’re entering is backed up, go ahead and put your car in reverse. Do not get on said highway and exit where and when it’s safe to do so. Refer to Rule #2 hummus bath / matkot dilemma. (Yes, I actually saw this on the Yarkon entrance to Road 5)

A lot of time is wasted on safety, and there’s no reason for that. Go with your gut.

5. Turn signals are decorative distractions that automakers, obviously understating the delicate Israeli fashion sense, still put on cars despite their obvious lack of utility.

The correct way to signal a lane change is to put at least 35% of your car in the target lane. DO NOT LOOK when doing this; this communicates indecisiveness. Those that try to make their own highway discos by running those silly blinkers from time to time are to be ignored, and whenever possible, gaps in traffic should be closed wherever you see them should they try to actually get in the lane they’re signaling for.

That’s it for now. Except this: HEY ISRAELI DRIVERS. DO ME A FAVOR AND KISS MY ASS.

Driving in Israel, Part I

August 12, 2007

Israel traffic jamI feel like driving in Israel deserves its own series. Why? Well because anytime you get on the road, either as a driver or as a passenger, you’re basically playing a game of Russian Roulette. Seriously. I feel like people say that about driving in New York too…but believe me when I tell you that driving in Israel is worse than anything you can imagine.

Anyway…I was smart enough to sort out the driver’s license business when I first moved to this country. I did a little lesson and took a little test and that was that. I knew I wouldn’t be driving anytime soon but I wanted to go ahead and get it out of the way. Finally, about two years after my arrival, I’ve been blessed with a car. A brand new car. Like many Israelis, I have leased a car through my company…it’s one of the perks of working in high tech. I’ve been lucky.

The first few days, I drove very timidly and cautiously and I was a friar. We’ve had that lesson on Zabaj before…what is a friar? A friar is someone who gets taken advantage of…the polite person or the quiet person…yeah…we get walked all over in this country. I had to quickly learn to assert myself on the roads. And I became very observant of all the mess that happens and all the really stressed out people behind the wheels of cars.

How can everyone be so stressed out? Well…it’s much like the escalator situation in this country. There just isn’t any urban planning. Everything is kind of thrown together. In America, you have all the up escalators grouped together so you can just go up and up and up without really pushing your way through crowds of people. Likewise with the down escalators.

In Israel…the up escalators and the down escalators are all clumped together so that whether you’re going up or down, you inevitably have to FIGHT traffic on each level to get to the next escalator. It makes absolutely no sense. And this is all besides the fact that people like to congregate and hover right on the entrance to every single escalator. For no reason. They just stand there and talk with old friends…completely blocking all traffic. Totally oblivious.

That’s how the roads are. The exit lanes onto major highways run parallel to the entrance lanes so everyone who is trying to get onto the highway has to merge with everyone trying to get OFF the highway. And it’s a long stretch of just utter chaos where everyone has to be extremely forceful and basically push people out of the way with their cars. It’s stressful for no reason. Where are the urban planners?

I feel like a great part of why everyone drives so insanely is because the way the roads are constructed make us insane. And I’ve found myself doing some insane things lately too! Like totally tailgating the car in front of me at high speeds because I know that if I am able to see his wheels touching the pavement, the guy to my right or to my left will suddenly decide he HAS to be in my lane…in front of me. It’s every man for himself out there…

Urban planners? Anyone? Anyone?