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Jul 18 2011

Carmageddon: Don’t Try That in Israel

By at 6:04 pm

Israelis aren't so good at following orders. Especially at falafel stands.

Something miraculous happened this past weekend in Los Angeles. The seas did not part. There was no burning bush. But, a major highway closed down for a 10-mile stretch and the world didn’t end. In fact, nothing happened.

This past weekend, the 405 freeway (a major freeway between Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley that most commuters take to get to work daily) shut down for almost 2 days for construction. For weeks leading up to the massive event, Angelenos were warned. “Carmageddon” was coming and there was no telling what could happen.

As it turns out, Angelenos heeded the warnings and it appeared as if everyone decided to stay home. (We did not, which is how we knew the streets were empty.

It is amazing to see how well everybody followed the rules (except for a few cyclists and joggers who were arrested for racing down the vacant freeway). But my point is that everyone else “followed the rules.” Even My 5-year-old son was aware of the situation and felt that we should stay home to “not make things worse by driving.”

As an Angeleno born to Israeli parents, I am still in awe when people follow directions. If this were to happen in Israel, people would show up on the streets just to prove that they could.  After all, in a country where standing in a line (or crowd, rather) for a falafel is difficult, how would they stay home during “Carmageddon?” I remember attending a music festival in an outdoor amphitheater in Israel as a teenager. I had my ticket in hand with assigned seating along with the thousands of others standing around me shoving to get in.

All I can remember thinking was, why is everyone pushing to get in to an amphitheatre that they have assigned seats?  It is not like the seats were going anywhere. But it was all a matter of principle or “prinseep” as much of my fellow Israelis like to call it.  Lines?  Israelis don’t stand in lines. But there is still a sense of togetherness, because everyone is pushing their way in and eventually the tourists catch on as well after being tired of waiting for the last stale falafel when just moments ago, they were next up to place their order.

So as an Angeleno native with Israeli roots and upbringing, you can imagine how shocked I was that everyone followed the rules.  Angelenos stopped what they were doing to allow the streets to be empty.  And thanks to those who left on vacation, who made it easier for us who were on a staycation.

In a city where people are often too busy worrying about themselves, it felt like a true sense of community, where everyone came together whether for selfish reasons or not (not wanting to deal with the traffic or not wanting to contribute to it). Either way, I am proud of my fellow Angelenos and my son, who insisted that “we should get out of the way, so they could do their job.”  Now if that were only true for my fellow Israelis awaiting their falafel pitas.

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on Kveller are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

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