Thursday, July 6, 2017

Everyday Life with Soldiers

Today two events convinced me that soldiers in Israel really are part of everyday life.  This afternoon I stopped at a coffee shop around the corner from my hotel.  The owner was sitting at an outside table with an Army sergeant and an rabbi. The owner is in his forties. The rabbi was older than me. The sergeant was not yet 25.

When I walked up to the counter inside to order a cappuccino, the sergeant made it. He had an automatic pistol clipped into the waist of his pants. A magazine was in the weapon. And he makes a very good cappuccino. He also made espresso for a woman who walked in.

After getting coffee for us, he went back outside and continued his conversation.

Tonight I ate dinner in a small food court where local vendors sell food and people eat at little tables or take out.  I sat with a plate of hummus, salad and chicken at a table with one chair.  A sergeant carrying a wicked looking Tavor assault rifle with a magazine in the chamber stopped next to my table.

The six-foot-tall sergeant dropped a big duffel bag and a backpack next to my table, smiled for a second, pulled out his phone, walked to the end of the room and had a very animated phone conversation with someone. He was clearly angry.  He held the phone with his shoulder, gestured with the one hand while talking and steadied the weapon with the other.

In America, the two kinds of people who would have an automatic rifle in a food court would be an security guard or the kind of jerk who needs to exercise his right to open carry. If either of those guys was yelling in his phone, I would have left the area immediately, then called 911.

But I looked around and no one seemed bothered at all. I kept eating and watched him. After a couple of minutes he calmed down. He ordered a sandwich, walked back towards me, put the sandwich in his pack, smiled again, picked up his gear and walked out.

Soldiers are part of life. They help their friends, they deal with problems and life goes on.

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