Last month I take a taxi. As we start to drive I notice the driver is looking for something. As the trip continues, he opens the glove compartment, closes the glove compartment. Then he starts sorting through papers on the seat next to him. He turns on the light. Plays with the clock. Does everything but look at the road.
I tell my daughter to make sure she’s buckled up while I hold on for dear life.
Finally, I say something.
“This is making me extremely nervous,” I say.
He doesn’t pay attention.
“Excuse me,” I say, a little out of character, “could you possibly wait until we get to a red light to do all of this?”
“Lady,” he says, “don’t worry.”
Half a second later — boom. Right into the car in front of us.
This was the first time I’d ever been in a car accident. Baruch Hashem I was holding onto the leather strap above the door. I only hurt my thumb, still a little stiff today, but the real pain that stays with me is this: If I knew in my bones that this was not good, then why didn’t I just tell him to pull over and let me out?
What happened to my reasoning, my common sense? Why did my good judgment fly out the window?
I try to dissect it. Cultural manners? Can’t insult the driver? Listening to a child’s opinion, like, “Mom you’re overreacting”? Or is it just the old battle of not listening to or not trusting my inner voice?
I think about how this applies every day, every hour of life — when and how do we “get out of the car” before we crash?
Trust. Trusting myself when something inside screams: Danger! Listen! Say “No!”
I remember moving to Israel. My husband had gone a week earlier to “set up camp.” I came alone with four little ones.
That particular day there was a rainstorm and our flight was canceled. Then the announcement: “There is not enough space to accommodate all the passengers on the next flight.”
Our names were among those who were bumped.
I called my mom, who had a travel agency.
She got us on the plane. After a night of no sleep, a long wait in the overcrowded airport holding two car seats and eight heavy carry-ons, we finally made it to check-in. There they handed me boarding passes and seat assignments for seats all over the plane. How in the world are a six-month-old, 1.5-year-old, 2.5-year-old, and 3.5-year-old going to sit all over the plane, away from their mother?
After two days of no sleep, wandering around crowded airports trying not to lose anyone, I had no more energy to do anything but to plunk the two car seats and myself in the first empty row of seats I saw, and buckle everyone in. I didn’t know exactly what I would do from there, but I needed the time to think, to listen to that inner voice.
About seven minutes later, a group of five tall, Viking-looking women were standing over me, waving a stack of tickets.
“I believe these are our seats,” one said.
“They probably are,” I answered, “but our seats are all over the plane, and I can’t do that.”
She wants her seats, she said. She and her daughters looked forward to sitting together for the ride.
I apologized profusely, but I couldn’t move..
They called a stewardess, who called the pilot.
There were five Vikings, a pilot, and a stewardess standing over me.
In Hashem’s mercy, the pilot noticed my plight, and after a few phone calls offered the five tall ladies $1,000 each if they would be so kind as to wait for the next flight. They practically flew out of the plane.
Just as I was beginning to breathe again, I felt a tap on my shoulder. A middle-aged Arab woman in the row behind me. “You were very stern, but very kind,” she said.
The long journey had begun. The long journey of learning when and how to just say “no.”