Monday, March 12, 2012

Parking and the Masked Stranger

Yes, these two things are connected.

Parking in Israel is fascinating.  Those little white lines between spaces?  Meaningless! Taking up two spaces? What's your point? Parking your big car in a tiny space so that no one on either side can get in their own car?  Is that a problem?

One place I LOVE to park is in the Azrieli Mall in Modiin.  There is a lovely covered parking lot with lots of spaces and I have figured out exactly where to park (green section!) so that I can get out on the right street and get home quickly.  Now, people there park rudely as well, but at least there are lots of spaces (except on Fridays, but that's another story).

The other thing I love about this mall parking lot is that parking is free for the first two hours.  When you leave your stick your little parking ticket thingy into a machine and it gives you a beautiful green message that says "no charge!"  Of course you have to make sure that you are there for less than two hours, but that's not hard to do - I mean, Towsontown Center (for non-Baltimoreans insert here any humgous multi-level mall in your city) it ain't.

So today after Ulpan I drove over to the mall to pick up some Ulpan supplies.  I started out Ulpan with a nice thick spiral notebook but after a while, you really need dividers and pockets because there are so many sheets, lists, etc. and you should keep them organized.  My library training kicks in here - I do so love organizing papers and making everything easy to get to.  As someone in class said today, we could easily organize this information on our computers, but then we'd have to be typing in Hebrew - haha, that's not gonna happen.

Back to the mall.  I found a cool store with school supplies and happily filled my arms with binder, paper, dividers, nilonim (plastic sheet holders which are VERY popular here), etc.

Then it was time to go home.

So I go to the exit and go to the ticket thingy and put my ticket it, waiting for it to show me the happy green screen and let me know that parking has been free.

Something goes very wrong.

My little parking ticket jumps in and out of the machine quickly and I keep pushing it in and it keeps popping out.  Then I get a message that I do not understand about my "kartis."  I think to myself, "Oh, I guess I'll just get in the car and hope for the best."  But inside I was very nervous.  What if the same police and members of Mossad who almost arrested me after I got gas last week are waiting for me at the mall exit and THIS TIME they'll get me for leaving without seeing the happy green message?

So I walk out to my car and guess what - while I had been inside the mall, the mall people had repainted the parking lot section I was parked in.  It was now orange.  Wow. Quick work.  It took me a second and then I realized I had come out of the wrong entrance.  So much for my showing off about what an expert I am at the mall.  Somehow my brain needed to work out the non-working parking ticket and going out the wrong entrance so somewhere in my brain I think, "Oh, the parking ticket didn't work because I was at the wrong entrance."  That may be one of the dumbest thoughts I've ever had.

So I go back into the mall, walk to the other entrance (if you think I was going to walk through the parking lot to find my car, you must be crazy), and once again put my "kartis" into the machine.  Guess what?  Same thing happens.  I walk to the guard standing there and ask what the message means.  He shrugs his shoulders. Thanks.  So I look the word up on my phone (I love you, Morfix) and I see that it means that the ticket cannot be read by the machine. 

That's. it, I fugre.  I will drive out and the card will not work and I will get arrested, or even worse - have to speak Hebrew through the intercome at the exit machine.  This is going to be interesting.

So I drive out and am happy that no one is behind me becasue I'm sure that I'm going to be there for a while.  I put the card in and it doesn't work, it pops out.  The message is, once again, that the ticket cannot be read.  At least I learned a new word today.

So I press the intercom button.  Then I notice that behind me is a young man on a motorcycle.  Oy, he's going to be mad at me!  Then, out of the blue, the young man, who is wearing a huge helmet (i.e. "masked man"), comes up next to my car.  No, I wasn't afraid.  And he hands me HIS ticket.  I understand that he wants me to use his ticket and then both of us will get out while the mehcanical arm is up.  Oooookkaaaaayyyyy.  I realize that it's going to be a mad dash.

I put the ticket in and floor it.  And yes, we both get out.  He saved me!  I thank him as we both pull up to the light.  I learned a new word and made a new friend!

Thank you, masked man!

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