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Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Entertaining the troops

This morning I assumed I'd be alone in the car since I had to go to my company's main offices in the center of the country and none of my 'usual customers' were off from the army.  However, as I passed through the Elah valley I ended up picking up three soldiers from the Givati Brigade (you can spot them by their distinctive purple berets). 

In case you hadn't noticed, I have a bit of a soft spot for the men and women doing their national service in the IDF.... and whenever I can, I try to  make their lives a little easier by bringing them drinks and snacks... and by giving them rides.

The Givati Brigade is one of Israel's elite, front-line infantry groups.  They are highly trained, and have been one of the primary IDF units serving in Gaza for quite some time now.  All three of these soldiers wore Sergeant stripes on their sleeves and had the serious look of people who have left their childhood far behind.

By the bits of conversation and phone calls I overheard, I figured out that one of their officers was driving down from the north, and they were meeting him so that they could all go together to join the rest of their unit already at the staging area outside of Gaza. 

The attitude among these serious young men was quite different from the way I've heard soldiers joke with each other on the way to their training bases.  I suppose it goes without saying that the destination really sets the tone for the trip.

As we turned off the twisting road that wends through the valley and got on a smooth-surfaced highway, I picked up my trusty coffee mug to take that first wonderful sip.

Just as the caffeinated elixir passed over my tongue and made its way towards the back of my mouth, a little tickle developed at the back of my throat. 

Under normal circumstances I could have kept the coffee from rushing down the now-open windpipe... any two-year-old has mastered this little trick!  But for some reason I got the timing wrong and a big hot mouthful of Sumatra's best made a mad dash for my lungs.

I probably don't need to tell you what happened next.  We're all men and women of the world, aren't we?  We're all familiar with involuntary bodily functions such as gagging... coughing... spraying coffee all over the steering wheel, dashboard and windshield, right?  No?  Just me???

Well it all happened so fast that it was like that scene from Pulp Fiction where they accidentally shoot the guy sitting in the back seat.  One second the car was full of composed, silent grownups.  The next second the interior of the car is tinted 'cafe au lait'!

I didn't have time to be embarrassed because instantly the car erupted in brays of laughter!  In that same millisecond, the years dropped from the soldier's faces and they rolled against each other, slapping their legs with tears running down their cheeks. 

As quickly as I could I pulled the car over to the side and parked on the shoulder. 

Looking around, I could no longer see the serious combat veterans who had silently shouldered their way into my car.  In their places sat the three little carefree boys they had once been... the kind of boys who would laugh at someone farting... burping in the back of a classroom... or coughing/spraying a drink out of orifices normally used for breathing. 

After I got the bulk of the coffee cleaned up it was less than a twenty minute drive before I dropped the soldiers at the junction where their officer's car sat idling... pointed south towards Gaza. 

As they got out of the car, they each thanked me for the ride... but their smiles and giggles told me that the thanks were also for the unplanned entertainment.

[sigh]

Well, nobody can say I'm not about improving the morale of our troops!

Shame221_3

Posted by David Bogner on November 30, 2004 | Permalink

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Once news of your morale-boosting performance hits the chayalim trempiste cellphone circuit, you may have to offer repeat performances. How about a weekly show ... perhaps you could sell tickets?

Posted by: Andy | Nov 30, 2004 9:53:38 AM

Andy... Be nice! You're talking to a man who has to drive home with coffee spots on his rear view mirror! A little sympathy would be nice.

Posted by: David | Nov 30, 2004 1:02:13 PM

I never meant to imply that I don't sympathise with your (ahem) drinking problem!

(Now let's see what Google does with that!)

Posted by: Andy | Nov 30, 2004 1:57:18 PM

This was an excellent post. Entertaining
and touching... :) I love when you write
like this.

Posted by: val | Nov 30, 2004 3:26:41 PM

"chayalim trempiste cellphone circuit" - thanks, Andy, I was desperately looking for this phrase the other day, but couldn't get it off the tongue.

David, things could be worse. Someone could have been dipping nachos into a jar of tomato salsa and a sheep crossing the street in front of your van in the last second.

[p.b. I got to the real point of your post, though...]

Posted by: mademoiselle a. | Nov 30, 2004 3:57:54 PM

Strong work! If you develop a fever and cough tomorrow, make sure to let your doctor know you've got a little coffee in your right lower lung lobe. It will have been well worth it though... Next, I'd like juggling falafel balls while driving paratroopers. (Oh! You didn't ask for requests?)

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Nov 30, 2004 4:25:17 PM

Fabulous. Its so good to laugh at yourself.
(oh...and we are laughing too)

Posted by: lisa | Nov 30, 2004 7:38:53 PM

"Next, I'd like juggling falafel balls while driving paratroopers. (Oh! You didn't ask for requests?)"

I like this idea ... not just Photo Friday, but Spit-Take Sunday!

Posted by: Andy Levy-Stevenson | Nov 30, 2004 8:18:18 PM

Andy... Thanks for that... next thing you know I'll be hosting a regular step meeting on my blog. :-)

Val... "...I would give my world to lift you up, I could change my life to better suit your mood...*" :-)
* -Carlos Santa - 'Smooth'-

Mademoiselle a. ... I drive a car, not a van. The fact that it's a staion wagon may not seem like a big distinction to you, but to a man it is a very big deal. I told my lovely wife that I did not want to be emasculated by having to drive a minivan... so she let me buy a staion wagon. So there! :-p

Doctor Bean... Thanks for that! I usually have to get my doctor friends all liquored up and full of onion dip before I move in for the free medical advice. :-) And no, I don't do requests (or windows).

Lisa... "I'm funny how? I mean, I'm funny like a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh? I'm here to f*ckin' amuse you? ..." -Joe Pesci in 'Goodfellas'- :-)

Posted by: David | Nov 30, 2004 8:20:07 PM

Um, perhaps next time you can just entertain the troops with your singing? Heh heh heh.

Posted by: Lisa | Dec 1, 2004 4:28:07 AM

oh, o.k. then - a staion wagon is a staion wagon is a staion wagon is a staion wagon is a staion wagon is a staion wagon...

Posted by: mademoiselle a. | Dec 1, 2004 8:30:29 AM

Lisa... Clearly you've never heard me sing. Just because I play a nice trombone doesn't mean I can sing. :-)

Mademoiselle a. ... Like I said, it's these small distinctions that allow me to maintain the illusion of virile masculinity.

Posted by: David | Dec 1, 2004 8:34:57 AM

Now this made me smile, twice. It is the kind of story that warms a person's heart from the inside out.

Posted by: Jack | Dec 1, 2004 3:30:10 PM

Jack... Warmed my heart from the inside too... or maybe that was just the scalding hot coffee.

Posted by: David | Dec 1, 2004 4:31:50 PM

Talk about a wonderful post! It made me think, laugh, and get wet eyed all while reading the same story :-)

Posted by: Hatshepsut | Dec 1, 2004 7:22:15 PM

Hatshepsut... Thanks. It had the same effect on me (which is why I chose to share it).

Posted by: David | Dec 1, 2004 9:55:15 PM

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