Arabs with Cranes

This story begins about 2 months ago when my friend Elan came to me after Beit Kinesset (Synagogue) one Cabalat Shabbat (Friday Eve.) and said, in a very hushed and, I have to admit, inquiring voice, “I really want to build a skateboard ramp. My brother built one and it is just my dream to have my own ramp.”

Now Elan, it appears, is a real mover and shaker in the skateboard world here. He knows guys from all over the world from his business dealings with building a new skate park in Tel Aviv and also got a little park in the plans for a nearby construction project in Zichron. (Just in the plans mind you. It is now stuck in typical, Subcontractor no-mans land, Israeli fashion) So, I got to wondering about why he needed a ramp in his front yard, or to be more specific, in the only parking area to his house within 200 meters. I guess he just has skateboards on the brain or something like that. I used to skate ramps when I was a kid and it is very addicting. I know where he is coming from; well I did maybe 35 years ago anyways.

So, since I am a skateboarder, surfer, snowboarder, and most importantly, a Nagar (carpenter), why not build a ramp? How hard could it be? It couldn’t take that long, right? Well, in Israel we don’t have weekends. We have Yom Shishi (Friday) and Yom Shabbat (Saturday). On Shabbat we don’t do any work and even if we wanted to, we can’t make noise because it is a real day of rest. No running around shopping or going to morning ball games with the kids. People are either praying in Beit Kinneset or sleeping and resting with friends and family. Most of the stores are closed (maybe like 50 years ago in The States on Sundays) and it is a very quite and peaceful day in the whole Medina (Country). So that left us with Yom Shishi and because we are in the Middle East in the summer, it gets quite hot around noon here. Actually, it gets hot about 10 in the morning and stays that way until about 3 or 4 in the afternoon, so if we wanted to get anything done we needed to be started by 7 in the morning and finish as early as we could, maybe 1 or 2 in the afternoon. We did this a few times over the last couple of months but mostly we started at 10 and finished swimming in the humidity at around 1 or 2. Ahyyy!!! I think you heard some earlier exploits of these fun times in a previous Blog (Shabbat Shalom).

The first day we spent, what was supposed to be a couple of hours, at one of the local lumberyards in Haifa. After a few politely irate calls from the wives we finally finished ordering the etsim (wood) for the ramp at about 2 and drove back to Zichron to get the house cleaned and ready for Cabalat Shabbat. I think the term ‘Arabs with Cranes’ was coined on that first journey back home. Elan said to me, “what if they don’t deliver the wood? What if they just cash the check and split? I guess this can happen sometimes here, I have heard of stories like this or like when his next door neighbor who is building a house had an aluminum subcontractor go bankrupt right after receiving a check for about ‘n,s’ 30,000.00, bad, bad, bad… I tried to reassure him, with my extensive knowledge of the Israeli mentality (ha ha), and he moved right into, “what are we going to do when (if) the wood arrives and some Arsim (punks) or Arabs steal it from the front of the house? We will have to cut it up and put it in the house or lock it or something. The Arabs could just come with a crane and take it away!”

So the rest of the trip home, and I admit for a few days after the wood finally did arrive, I was scanning the horizon for Arabs with cranes. Elan told me that he did see one once a few weeks later. When, on the next Friday, we met at the house for the wood delivery and stashed it neatly in the back of the house, wrapped it with chains, plastic tarps, and padlocks to keep the Arsim from being tempted, Elan's wife Eviva came out to enjoy our exploits and chimed right in with, “aren’t those chains going to give the Arabs with cranes a nice little hook to take the whole thing away?”

We all had a good laugh at that one and now, with the help of Moshe and Edan, the wallet and carpentry skills of Elan, and of course, the tools and vast knowledge of the Israeli way of life - me, we have a micro ramp… Elan, what is the deal here? (he just text messaged me that the sun is beating the ramp and we need to do something, maybe next Friday or Thursday eve…) let me just finish the Blog first! Maybe he just wants to skate the, yes, finally finished ramp! Skate on Elan! I will join you after I give my wife some much needed attention, I get the house cleaned, finally, and I get some sleep!

Shabbat Shalom!

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