I don't exactly know how to explain it, but my general feeling is that I've been through something big. That I'm after an experience. You know when the body feels something and then has to explain to itself what it is? So that's it – that's where I am right now. The truth is that it's quite natural, last month I celebrated the double Shavuot holiday with great pleasure: I filmed a lot for television and even visited the hospital for a moment, but it's so clear to me that these are not the reasons for this feeling. The obvious and obvious reason is that I have successfully passed my duties to the Department of Motor Vehicles and am currently writing before you a basic course for proper driving, which even boasts an official certificate.
This adventure, which seems like something you do on the road, and only because you have to, for some reason had a strong effect on me, and in the following lines I will try to understand the compromise. The course ended a few days ago. My soul lives for four hours that I do not contemplate, returning in my imagination to a moment of his moments, and feeling satisfaction that he is behind me, and good luck.
• • •
School classroom. Gray tables. Generations of chewing gum at the bottom. White whiteboard. The building itself already has the potential to expand the heart: the Herzliya Gymnasium in Tel Aviv. In my youth I always looked up with curious eyes to two institutions: the Rehavia Gymnasium and the Herzliya Gymnasium. And now, I've visited both of them again and again in recent years.
At the Rehavia Gymnasium near my home because of the ballot box placed there for the endless elections, and at the Herzliya Gymnasium to pass the course. At four o'clock they begin to gather. Men and women like me who have been caught driving without a belt; who spoke on the phone; They were tempted to make a U-turn and scored 12 points for their duty. And the points, it was noted, are not points on the visa! (The Department of Motor Vehicles apparently believes this joke very much, because we've heard it at least three times from every possible person in the area), so they are doomed to report twice, for four hours each time, for a proper driving course at the end of which their points will be erased.
This stage is interesting because the participants do not yet know what awaits them, and they are convinced that they have come to spend some time on the phone and yawning while a retired clerk mumbles something about road signs in front of them. In a moment, the teacher will enter the classroom, and they will go through the shock of their lives: he is going to order them to turn off their phones and ignore them for the entire duration of the lessons, he is going to tell them that at the end of the course there will be a test and they must pass it (albeit only by 50%), and mainly he is going to tell them that whoever is eliminated or does not pass the test will come here again.
• • •
At this precise point, you can really feel it in the air – a moment after Avi Bar-Ilan, the best teacher of proper driving in Israel, hit us with this introduction in a commander's voice and a cut of military speech and piercing blue eyes – something happened in the room. You could really feel it. That was as close to the exhaustive effect as the first MK call in basic training. And I, who experienced basic training at a really late age, in the middle of life, immediately went back there. Long before the first night without a mother with the crying and everything, it's this tremendous force that stands in front of you and gives you orders and you can't do it. That is, you can of course get up and walk, but then you will not have a license.
The 30 students, including a school principal, two journalists, a former senior minister, a capital market man who is now allowed to tell me that right next to me, under the table, gave buying and selling orders, and a variety of other women and people in the middle of their lives – realized in one second that they were not at the enrichment meeting. They are in punishment. The penalty for accumulating 12 points (which is not visa points, right? ha ha ha) is participation in this classroom. No phones, and with a test, and when someone scolds you as loudly as if you were in school.
• • •
And you're in school. The class is sweaty. People begin to move in their chairs under pressure, and as in a school there is immediately the Dane on duty, who of course needs to go to the bathroom. I know he's just going to cry outside. And the Shimon on duty: "Excuse me, can we speak a little more gently?" Not Shimon. That's the concept. And you are the smart guy, who will become the bad boy with the annoying comments. And what about the air conditioner? And how is the window? And turn it on and off.
And it's long and ongoing. Each lesson lasts almost two hours. And slowly those in the room lean against the table. The Formica touch is familiar to them and they are giving in, becoming obsolete. The resistance weakens and they begin to surrender. The stories of serious accidents and casualty figures, and the mathematical calculations of reaction distance plus braking distance equals stopping distance, which means that if you were driving behind a bus that stopped at a stop at 30 km/h and a child emerged in front of the bus, you are pretty sure you kill him. The fact that it doesn't happen is because it doesn't emerge.
And right after recess, everyone sits in their seats like soldiers, because names are being read, and I'm sure the teacher who usually teaches in this class would have died for such obedience and discipline. And at the end of the first day, everyone is more reconciled, because they have already internalized their status and situation and understood that they are being punished. And at the end of the second day, everyone passes the test and attends the class and thanks my father warmly and wholeheartedly. He is almost embraced.
• • •
And I, who from the first moment I entered the classroom knew that endless satirical material awaited me, completed this course successfully, and all I have to say is nothing but praise and praise. Really, really, and with slightly moist eyes. Thank you Avi, thank you Amir, thank you Tzipi. It's meticulous, it's true, it's well made and that's the last thing I would expect from a system of government. There's the slightly dumb bureaucratic awkwardness typical of large systems, but it's jagged and almost seems to have been designed by someone. Because he has a role in the matter, to uphold the punitive element in the whole story.
The content is waiting and enriching, the subtext is frightening and daunting (and regretful), and despite its rigidity and toughness, it is a really proportionate punishment. And the main thing: I drive better. I keep more distance. Even now, when I type this column while driving, I make sure to glance at the road at all times (just, I wanted to test your alertness. In class, this happens all the time. A little annoying).
Are you crazy? If until now I allowed myself to exchange a song on YouTube, since the course I have treated my cell phone as a serial killer. I accelerate suddenly, and I actually hear the voice of the guide Avi cheering: "One kill a day! Does that seem normal to you?!" (No, it's not, Mom!) I'm more aware of driving, and mostly I'm much more careful, because woe betide me if I commit an offense, get caught and have to go through this exciting nightmare again.
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