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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Things that are weird in Israel #7: School Buses

image Know what I haven’t seen since we got here?  Oops, did my picture and headline give it away? 

Okay, you guessed it – one of those junky yellow school buses with their rubbery, incident-proof seats and the SMELL that hovers around you the minute you walk in, no matter how many of those rattley windows you open.

For some reason, they don’t seem to exist here.  And I say that having visiting many cities now… let me know if you’ve seen them where you are, but I simply haven’t.

For the first few weeks after school started, I remember thinking, every single morning, “hmm… there sure are a lot of tours coming and going from this area.”  Tours?  To Kiryat Yam?  Every single morning?

Silly me:  those were the school buses.  They look like regular coach buses, with coach bus company names on the side and the ubiquitous – yet somehow slightly sleazy – curtains on the window. 

image

I have often watched kids clambering aboard (the stairs seem impossibly high for very young children) and thought about asking them if they knew how lucky they were.

Lucky to have air conditioning, arm rests, cushioned seats covered in REAL fabric (do Israeli children have fewer incidents on buses than in North America???).  Seats shaped roughly like actual human spines, rather than bookshelves:

image 

(photo credit:  Bill McChesney)

Rather than children going off to a mundane day of study, they look like tiny tourists, off to see the world.  Of course, it’s a lovely metaphor, but it probably feels just as mundane, after the first day, as travelling on a city bus, or a plain ol’ yellow school bus. 

But to me, it nonetheless says something about how this country treats its children.  That they are to be trusted, and driven in both safety and comfort.  That the destination is important, even if it feels like dull routine.

Whatever you think, one way or the other, don’t do what I did and google “Israeli school bus.”  Take my word for it: this post is the most cheerful one you’re likely to find on the subject.

(top photo credit:  H. Michael Miley)

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