8 First Reaction

8 First Reaction

Dec 25 – 31

First reaction

What’s your first reaction when something awful happens? Even considering “awful” has a very very long continuum, the MOMENT when it happens is the test. Right? A friend many years ago taught me that when you’re bumped, what spills out is what’s really IN you. Ugh. But even if not, “ugh”, it’s potentially revealing.

I was standing on the corner of King George and Hillel, waiting for the light to change, when I had the brilliant idea to check my phone for anything that might mean a change of plans for the next few hours. Whether walking, standing, or in my apartment with the stone floors, I’m usually intentional, attentive, careful with my phone – acutely aware of how important it is and so easy to drop, trip if walking with it, or be careless…. Do you think you know what’s coming? Don’t bet, yet!

I turned the phone on, and it jumped out of my hand onto the street.

The phone landed on its face.

The case popped off and flew more than a foot away.


my Nokia 521 didn’t simply land in the street.

A bus was turning the corner.

The huge tires of the bus squashed the case.

I screamed “Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo”

and reached for the closest co-pedestrian.

I buried my face into the (fortunately) woman’s soft, squishy grandmotherly (translated as “comfort”!) upper arm and shoulder to hide my eyes from seeing the HUGE tire go over the phone.

I’m certain the cry I made has been heard before in this land of awful, unimaginable tragedies, but I humbly confess my momentary anguish is embarassng.

So much more than the situation warranted!!! But,

give me a break. My reaction wasn’t deliberate or rationalized. It was a REACTION, not a response.

My decision to carelessly mishandle the phone could have been followed by a second bad decision: to launch a rescue maneuver against the bus. I shudder to remember the moment I actually considered whether I could retrieve the phone, but the bus’ proximity was a…deterrent. That will go down in the annals of a Good Decision.

A knight in shining armor- his head donning not a helmet but a kippah (Hebrew), yamulka (Yiddish), or, if you must, beanie (WASP) – retrieved my damaged property left in the wake of the bus. We, my co-pedestrians and I, peered at Nokia’s shattered face, the beautiful lines of fracture obscuring the Windows colors on the screen and prohibiting navigation of the device by touch. The case, cracked and no longer able to hug the phone to secure the battery and protect the sim card, had its own battle scars of bus tire marks.

Did the bus go over the phone, or was the shattered face only from crashing on the asphalt? I blurted to my stranger co-pedestrians that I don’t know what to do, have no one with me, don’t know what to do, have only been here 5 ½ weeks, and that don’t know what to do and that I don’t know what to do and that…

My knight in shining armor led me to a phone repair shop saying all the while how he trusts the man there who was fair and would assess the phone to help me know the best strategy. We discussed the pitfalls of options: ordering the replacement of my $65 Nokia phone from the U.S. (tariff and delivery would likely overshadow purchasing another phone here); considering an inexpensive dumb, not smart, phone and have my friend coming late January bring it directly the Microsoft Store in Park Meadows Mall; or shopping new phones here.

At the phone repair shop, the trustworthy man ordered the face for the next day’s (if I’d been an hour later, delivery would be delayed days or into next week). With the new face, he will then assess the phone – whether damaged other than the screen or not. If he determines the phone is damaged, he won’t charge me the 500 shekels (around $130) for the new face, and I’ll explore replacement options. I’ll find out tomorrow evening Nokia’s prognosis….

So – while my phone may not consider it minor – what was my reaction to this, minor “trauma”? I reached out to a stranger for comfort (not something I would have done at other points in my life). I didn’t curse or feel sorry for myself or visit “why me?” or anything of the sort. Thankfully, I didn’t even cry, then. I wanted to cry when taking leave of my Knight, Asaf, because he’d been kind and understanding and helpful, taking time from his workday to help. Kindness is more likely to bring me to tears… I’m glad that what spilled out was reaching out to others, and nothing I have to undo.

What does this have to do with Israel? The tough on the outside/tenderhearted on the inside example of a cactus fruit “Sabra” used for native born Israelis. http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-sabra.htm. I’ve seen the tender, sweet inside exhibited in countless ways on the streets, and in the lives of the kind-hearted folks who have reached out to me in hospitality and inviting me into their lives and activities and friendships. Oh, and yes, I’ve seen the tough side as well.

The challenge of an extremely minor crisis. Regardless of how random, my experience will hopefully not be lost, but another of the tiny steps of living life better. I’d like to be more disciplined to heed the caution I’d already embrased about handling something “precious”. How much more so should we handle one another, our love, the blessings of our lives.

This is the last day of 2014. May your celebration of the year past, and the one ahead be worth remembering, as the marking of new beginnings, new ways to love, to live truthfully, to grow in God’s amazing creation

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