S ettling into the back of the taxi, I open my pocketbook and go through my usual ritual.

First I check if I have my mobile phone. Oh, good, it’s nestling at the bottom of the bag with my wallet. Next, house keys. Where are my house keys? I just used them to lock up, so I should have them on me, right? I search through all eight compartments of my bag, but no key.

I’m about to have a major panic attack, thinking I must have left them in the door, when I suddenly realize they’re in my jacket pocket. Baruch Hashem. Now for my reading glasses. Since I made aliyah, I gave up the notion that a ride in a taxi is an opportunity to relax.

When I was younger, I loved to ride in anything that moved. Cars, buses, taxis — especially taxis, since taxi drivers were the most sedate drivers around. In England, that is. Since I came to Israel, I’ve developed a serious case of NPS (Nervous Passenger Syndrome). I don’t know if it’s location-related, or simply because I’m older and less adventurous, but it probably has a lot to do with the way Israeli taxi drivers seem to defy every rule in the book.

Like my driver now, for instance. He just took a sharp bend. The taxi’s moving slowly, but we still veered toward the row of parked cars on our right. Now he lurches sharply to the left. What on earth? I lean forward and see the driver tapping on his smartphone, not looking at the road, not even with one eye.

“Selichah, adoni, but what you are doing is not lawful, you know,” I say, surprised at my temerity.

“What’s that? What did you say?”

“You’re not supposed to be looking at your phone. Can you please pay attention to your driving?”

“You American, geveret?” And I thought my Hebrew was impressive.

“No, I’m not American,” I tell him, wondering what my nationality has to do with anything. When it comes to hearing English, or English-accented Hebrew, Israelis always assume you’re American. I wonder if he knows we speak English in England. Has he even heard of England?

“What you’re doing is not right,” I tell him. “When you drive passengers you have to be more careful.”

“Lady, you have nothing to worry,” he says, switching to English. “You’re in safety hands. I’m driving 30 years. Don’t worry! Why you worry?”

I worry because I don’t want to have an accident, chas v’shalom. I don’t want to end up in the hospital, or become one of those disproportionately high number of road accident statistics. Of course I don’t say any of this aloud. Al tiftach peh l’satan and all that. I just pray silently. My most fervent prayers since I’ve lived in Israel take place in buses and taxis. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 542)