Posted by: Liza Rosenberg | June 22, 2005

Of Trains and Men (and the lessons they fail to learn)…

I am a train commuter. We are a growing breed here in Israel, but when I first started taking the train, just over 4 1/2 years ago, we were still something of a novelty. While searching for my current job, I vowed that I would do everything I could to find a position that allowed me to commute by train. My previous job (which is probably deserving of its very own blog, as some of you know…) was a mere 40 minutes’ drive during non-rush hour traffic. During rush hour, it became a nightmare, sometimes taking more than 90 minutes. Officially, I left because of the commute (the real reasons belong in the aforementioned, as yet unwritten blog), and I swore never to undertake a similar commute again.

But I digress.

When everything goes according to plan, train travel is great. I get on, grab a seat, stick my face in a book (just finishing up a reread of Marian Keyes’ “Under the Duvet” while I wait for my recent Amazon order to arrive) and pull it out again when they announce my stop. Aside from the brief burst of energy required to move through the obstacle course of soldiers, civilians and a veritable plethora of bags to get off the train (in the face of all the impatient commuters so desperate to get on the train that they don’t actually let you off first), then sprint to the other side of the station before everybody else (dodging equally harried commuters moving in both directions) in order to secure a spot on the shuttle bus, I arrive at work in a relatively relaxed state – no traffic frazzle, no near misses on the roads. Ditto for the ride home, when all I want to do is chill out after a stressful day at the office.

Yesterday, for hundreds of poor souls, everything did not go according to plan. Shortly before 6pm, a full train heading South plowed into a truck that was crossing the train tracks, killing eight people and injuring 195. Cars derailed from the tracks, some completely destroyed. When did I hear about this tragic accident? As I got on the shuttle bus after work, heading to the train station. We all looked at each other, silently wondering how this was going to affect our own commutes, and thankful that it wasn’t our train. I even received an email from a friend who wrote that he rides that train home everyday, yet yesterday, he decided to work from home – a decision that may have saved his life.

They were saying on the news last night that the truck driver (who was among the dead) had been on the road for more hours than was permissible by law, and that the company he worked for had been under investigation by the police for allowing its drivers to work extended shifts. How typical of the Israeli fondness for bending rules and cutting corners! I am constantly amazed by the ease with which so many of the citizens of my adopted country ignore rules and regulations. It’s practically a national sport, and nothing is done to change this dangerous attitude. Sure, there is talk, committees are inevitably formed (and occasionally, they even meet), conclusions may be drawn, and everything continues as before, essentially spitting on the graves of the victims whose lives were lost due to these callous acts of greed and ignorance. Whether it be a collapsed wedding hall in Jerusalem, a collapsed bridge over very troubled waters in Tel Aviv, or train-truck collision in the Negev, I fear that Israelis will never learn the lessons of these easily avoidable tragedies, and it is only a matter of time until we will be forced to mourn the next group of innocent victims.

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Responses

  1. Was thinking of you when I heard about the accident. I know you travel in the opposite direction, but still…

  2. Thanks for this joint blog – I love reading it, and because you are co-blogging the posts are more frequent – Yay!


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