Sunday, November 25, 2012

Paula R. Stern - The Bus Driver

Paula R. Stern..
A Soldier's Mother..
25 November '12..

I don't know his name; I probably never will. I know he started work at 7:00 a.m. on Thursday morning and twelve hours later, was still driving - special runs to pick up soldiers from near Gaza and drive them to bases from which they were released back to their lives.

I know he is a civilian. I know he was very tired when he picked up Elie's unit near Gaza on Thursday evening. I know that he needed to rest and so stopped the bus in Beersheva to give the guys some time in the mall while he took some much needed down time and finally, I know he lives in Bat Yam, near Tel Aviv.

The other thing I know about him is what he did for my son and dozens of other soldiers on Thursday night. He drove them to a central base, where they were to turn in their weapons and be released/checked out of the army. The base is about a 10 minute walk from a major highway, on a small road which few cars need to enter. The bus driver finished his final task of the night as he entered the small road, pulled up to the base, and let the soldiers get off.

Despite his exhaustion, he realized that once the soldiers were done, they would have to walk that 10 minute walk to the main highway and try to catch buses or rides to get home. It would take hours for some of them. He decided to wait. He told the soldiers to go - give in their guns, and he would wait. He waited an hour - a full hour, this man who had worked more than 12 hours already, this man who had a family and wanted to get home to them.

When the soldiers were back on the bus, he drove them to the main highway and stopped. If they were going towards Jerusalem, as Elie was, they got off there and waited to catch a bus. Elie caught a ride to the eastern edge of Jerusalem; I drove with Lauren to meet him from there.

As for those who lived towards Tel Aviv, the tired bus driver told them to stay on the bus. As he drove home, soldiers would tell him where he could let them off to catch the nearest bus or train to get home. This kindness saved them hours of waiting in the cold and the rain.

It was a kindness that was being repeated in many ways throughout Israel - our thanks to our sons. I'll never know that man's name; never know how to thank him. I can only hope that somewhere he has a son who serves and that someone has or will someday do for him what his father did for mine.


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