Filed under: Hey!
I was warned about him.
Last week some random older gentleman came up to me and told me that he didn’t care, but there was another guy living in the building next to mine who thinks this pole I park my bike on belongs to him. The guy warned me that this guy was going to find me and tell me not to park my bike there.
Well, that happened this week. His car was behind me, and he started calling out to me. There were a bunch of kids around making noise, and of course the guy was speaking to me in Hebrew, so I didn’t recognize he was talking to me. He repeated himself and came closer until he had my attention. I explained I speak English, and he told me that he is handicapped and his dedicated parking space is in front of the pole I park my bike on.
There is an expression in Israel; actually more of a code to live by: it’s called Don’t be a fryer. It basically means: don’t be a sucker; that in Israel if you aren’t careful, everyone is going to try and take advantage of you. This runs very contrary to how I try and live my life, but I don’t want to get into that right now. My Inner Israeli came out, and it became very important to me to not be a sucker fryer for this guy. So, I told him to prove it; I wanted to see the handicapped card in his wallet or sticker on his car or whatever – the proof that this pole referred to his parking spot.
He argued back at me, and that’s when I saw his left hand. It didn’t have any fingers on it. It was more than a stump; it sort of widened out to a hand-like thing, but yeah, no fingers. That was sort of better than a card or sticker, you know? But he’s already busy pulling off a towel from his windshield to keep his car cooled, and he shows me some sticker. It doesn’t look like the universal “guy in wheelchair” symbol, but I’m sure it was the official thing I had asked to see.
Still, what gives with my bike? I’m not trying to take the guy’s parking space, I’m just using the pole that’s there to display a sign so that nobody else takes his parking space. Doesn’t mean the pole is his. I point this out to him, and he says that it’s difficult to open the doors of the car when a bike is there. Hmm, this is suspicious; the space is a full car-length in front of the sign, not parallel to it. What he just said didn’t make sense.
Anyway, I was trying to steal my first quick dip in the Mediterranean after Ulpan and before work, so I just kinda said, “I dunno, man,” and rode away; not conceding anything.
I got a block away, before turning around. Don’t be the fryer, kid.
I pulled up just as he was going into his apartment building. I called out to him. I said, Listen, I’ve copied down your license # and the make of your car. If anything happens to my bike, I’m going to call the police and tell them it was you. He basically did the Old Israeli Guy equivalent of a sistah’s Oh no he didn’t! exclamation, which was a defeated, whiny, “Ohhhh, look kid. I tried talking to you nicely, explaining why you can’t park here, and now you go mentioning the police?” (Then very quickly he switched tactics.) “Where are you from?” he asked me. New York, I told him. “Ah, my son lives in Boston, at Harvard, and I just came from a visit with him.” (I guess he was trying to sweet talk me now?) I said, Look, just because the parking spot is yours does not mean the pole is yours. I can park my bike there if I like. He opened the door to his building and showed me five bikes parked inside the lobby. “Look! See all the bikes parked inside here? Why can’t you just park your bike inside your builiding?” I thought it would be rude to the other people in my building to do this, and also there’s not really anything skinny enough to get my U-Lock around.
But I remembered my next door neighbor telling me just a day or two earlier that the previous person who had my apartment would chain his bike in the front garden outside our building, to an air conditioner (they are big ass units here, not window units like NY’ers might be picturing). I didn’t really wanna do this, b/c it involves opening a gate door and lifting the bike up a big step. It’s just so much easier to hop off my bike as it’s still in motion and chain it to that his that pole.
But, you what? The guy was truly handicapped. He probably got that injury in the IDF, defending this country that I love so much I moved here to live in it. Plus, my neighbor had just pointed out a new parking spot to me a day before. Coincidence? Nah, more like The Universe suggesting I let this guy have his way. So, even though I don’t love it, that’s what I’ve done. I would have done it more willingly had the guy asked me if I would please park somewhere else, rather than telling me I could not park here b/c the pole was his. But, that’s just my ego talking, and I don’t need to be led my own ego either.
Coda: I really didn’t mind seeing a big ass motorcycle chained around the pole the last two days. For the month I’ve lived here, no other bike or cycle has tried to use that pole ever. It’s only out of the blue now that this motorcyle showed up and started using it. I figure this is The Universe teaching this guy his own lesson now: act like a big shot to get the bike removed….and we’ll put a motorcycle in it’s place. Ha.
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