Hitchhikers Guide to Samaria, Literally

Hitchhiking in Samaria. Easy as pie.

High gas prices, oil belonging to Arabs, environmental issues, traffic jams, parking fees – it’s better to just carpool. Not only do we carpool in Samaria, we have a culture of hitchhiking which we call tremping. In America, it’s not only dangerous, it’s also illegal. One would not dare stick out his thumb anymore.

Who knows where you’ll end up by getting into a stranger’s car or taking a stranger into your own car. Just think back to that scene in “There’s Something About Mary” with the 7 Minute Abs guy. Great movie.

Anyway, in Israel, we are all family trying to make our lives work. We all try to help each other out whenever possible. Every morning, Rafi, Baron, and Alix stick out their fingers to “tremp” to work, and they are not the only ones. Many Samarians rely on others to get them to university, work, the mall, the doctor, the bank, and other places when they don’t have a car.

Even though Rafi has a car, he would rather leave it home with Natasha and Tzivia in case of an emergency instead of spending the gas money and adding another to the morning traffic jam just to get himself, one person, to work. Rafi also bypasses the heavy Tel Aviv traffic by getting out and running through an agricultural field (with the added benefit of bringing home fresh fallen grapefruits). Alix “tremps” to the train station and bypasses the traffic on the highway by riding the train straight to work at the Azrieli towers in Tel Aviv.

On the other hand, when Natasha goes food shopping in town with the baby, she needs to bring the car for the baby and the groceries. On the way, she always tries to pick up those who are going her way. That’s how the system works. Everyone helps out when they can and is helped when they need. Sort of like communism, except without Stalin. (Rafi’s comment.)

Many people believe that God puts people in the right place at the right time so that everyone gets where they need to go at the right time. And everyone has at least one special “tremping” story worth noting to illustrate this point, so here is an example.

The Farber family had just arrived at Ben Gurion airport packed to full capacity after a trip to visit family in Miami. Five suitcases, two backpacks, a stroller, and a baby with no car seat and no way of getting home. At baggage claim, they realized that one bag was missing, leaving them with one less. This allowed the Farbers to be able to “schelp” all their belongings without any help, technically speaking.

They loaded everything onto the train at the airport after pushing everything from baggage claim, to customs, and to the train. Throughout the journey, strangers helped the wacky family with their massive amounts of luggage filled with goodies and gadgets from America. After one train switch in Tel Aviv (this involved pushing everything in and out of a couple of elevators), the family arrived at Rosh HaAyin train station, a 20 minute drive from home. A soldier on the train recognized the family and asked for a ride home in their car since he lived in the neighborhood (a common practice on the train), but alas, no car.

This confused the guy considering the four suitcases, two backpacks, stroller, and baby. Rafi explained to him that a bus was coming and that he planned to shove everything in the luggage compartment (except for the baby), though the bus stop was a 20 minute walk from the station. The soldier decided to help the family with the suitcases all the way to the bus stop. He then informed the couple that his father was passing by and would be glad to take some luggage with him, which is what indeed happened.

Some five minutes later, while waiting for the bus which was already late, a huge van pulled up to offer a ride. Explaining that it was impossible with the luggage and the baby, the driver showed them that everything fit in his van and he was equipped with a baby seat as well. They all got in, basically in shock. As they drove off, it started pouring rain. He dropped them off at their door with everything. They made it home with everything, except of course for the missing fifth suitcase from the airport. That was delivered to their door a few days later after arguing with the lost luggage driver guy who didn’t want to drive “all the way out there” and preferred to meet them in Tel Aviv.

They insisted. He came.

Everything had worked out, they were home, thanks to fellow Jews and thanks to God for putting them in the right places at the right times.