OCTOBER 5, 2017 – After shopping for the last of our Sukkot supplies, my wife and I got on the #24 bus in Hadar this morning. In typical fashion, everyone cuts the line and I’m last to get on. As I swipe my bus pass, I ask the driver to confirm that the bus is heading to Horev. He tells me it is.
Then he looks at me, and says something in Hebrew I can’t understand. I stare back at him. Then he says something else. Something about a cell phone. Something that happened a few months ago. And then it hits me: The day after we landed in Israel – a little over two months ago – we lost my wife’s cell phone on the #24 bus in Haifa. “I remember you. You’re in the picture on the phone! You wear a big kippah!”
And then he scolds me: “Why didn’t you call? We didn’t know who you were.” In my broken Hebrew, I try to tell him we did call, but Egged told us they didn’t have the phone and not to hold out hope of it coming back.
He tells me to call Egged – right now! – and ask for the lost and found. I call and try to explain the situation, and the guy on the other end of the line yells at me and hangs up.
The driver says, “Do they still have it?”
“I don’t know. He hung up.”
So he gives me another number. “This is Yaakov’s cell phone, he’s at the lost and found. Call him and tell him Nissim gave you the number.”
So I call, and Yaakov picks up. I tell him Nissim gave me his number. “Nissim who?”
“Nissim the driver.”
“Give me to him.”
So I put Yaakov on speaker, and Nissim explains to Yaakov why we’re calling. Of course, I can’t understand anything. Except for the end of the conversation, where Nissim says, “I’ll tell him. But he speaks English. His Hebrew isn’t good.”
And then Nissim gives me directions: Go to the Hof HaCarmel station, walk 20 meters to the left, find the lost and found, and ask for Yaakov. But get there before 2:30, because that’s when Yaakov leaves.
So then I get off the bus, thank Nissim, take the next one to Hof HaCarmel, and I find the lost and found. I walk in, and they invite me to join them for Mincha. I join. At some point, I realize I’m standing next to four tall stacks of black fedoras that people have left on various Haifa buses.
Afterward, I talk to Yaakov, who hands me off to an English-speaking employee. He asks me what month we lost the phone. “July,” I answer. Then he pulls out the July bag of cell phones. We find the right one and plug it in.
While we’re waiting for the phone to charge, another driver walks in with a large hiking backpack. They get a phone number off of it, and they say to me, “You speak English. Call this woman while you’re waiting.”
So I call, and I talk to the woman, who lives in Jerusalem and can’t make it to the Haifa bus station. So we arrange for her to pick it up at the Jerusalem bus station tomorrow afternoon, complete with her getting the driver’s cell phone number.
After I hang up, my wife’s phone finishes booting. And there is my photo on the screen. So I show my ID, give him my contact information, sign the form, and the English-speaking employee gives me the phone.
He looks at me and says, “I don’t believe it.”
“Neither do I!” I reply as I walk out the door. “Happy holiday!”
Stefan Boroda, formerly of Swampscott, moved to Israel with his family in July.