Sometimes some of “my” soldiers need to get back to their bases on a Sunday morning. Over time, I have learned that the Military Police is out in vengeful, I mean watchful, full force early on Sunday mornings. Truly, why not? The Military Police has to be up at the very crack of dawn and at the Central Bus Station in order to do their job. Someone has to ‘pay’ for the fact that they have gotten up THAT early! So besides providing alert security, the other part of the Military Police’s job is to check that all the other soldiers entering the Central Bus Station are: “shirts-under-buckled-belts-pants-tucked-into-boots-military-insignia-polished-and-in-place-beret-on-the-shoulder-hair-buzz-cut-clean-beards-trimmed-no-missing-equipment-ironed-regulation-‘A-dress’-uniforms” neat and tidy. If for some reason a soldier is found to be “out of order” he gets a “report” and ends up punished with the loss of his next weekend furlough.
“My IDF soldiers” know the rules and follow them. Generally, when I have an early Sunday morning Central Bus Station drop off, it is enough for me to give my boys a final lookover as they get out of my car, occasionally I need to call out to one of them: “Son, shirt’s out, have a good week!” Then as they are tucking in their shirts I get a sheepish smile and a “Thanks, you have a good week too!”
But what to do, when one of my boys spends the weekend with his girlfriend and he’s sitting in the back seat of the car bemoaning the fact that he forgot to get his hair buzz cut and his bread trimmed and so he’s already given up his next furlough because he ‘just’ knows he’s going to get ‘caught’ by the Military Police? This morning as my own son and I collected his army buddy just such a situation came up. Not wanting to cause the sleepy young soldier in the back seat additional embarrassment or “tzuris*”, I remained silent until he was done complaining to my son.
Then I asked my son: “Where to drop you off this morning? The usual front entrance of the Central Bus Station or did you want me to drive around the back directly next to the bus-loading area?” My son, who is the grandson of a lion, but doesn’t skip a beat when it comes to being as sly as a fox, looked straight at me, smiled his broadest smile, and answered: “You know what? This morning, we’ll take that back door entrance drop off. Thank you for this.”
My other soldier, the “out of order” one in the back seat, suddenly realized what I was planning to do and shyly commented: “Really, you don’t have to go to any extra trouble for me.” To which my son and I, as one human, responded: “Who’s taking you into consideration? It’s just that today the back door entrance drop off is the easiest!”
As the boys galloped past the Military Police towards their bus, I noticed that one of them had an un-tucked shirt, not wanting to draw undue attention to them, I let it go. Minutes later I received a text message with the words: “Successful passage, on the bus! See you next furlough! Thank you.”, followed by two smiley faces.
And just like that, despite the early Sunday morning Military Police on patrol hour, we’ve all begun an excellent week!
(*Hebrew through Yiddish: “aggravation”)