Monday, October 27, 2008

A Free Man

Yesterday was my first day as a free man again. And no I wasn't released from prison!

On Sunday the 26th of October I was released from service in the Israeli army after serving 1 year and 9 months, 14 ½ months of which were in active service. I took the last opportunity to travel for free on the train, making my way from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv on the train, winding through the gorgeous Jerusalem hills and then speeding along the coastal plains past Lod and Rechovot until finally I reached Tel Aviv HaHaganah. As per usual, the station was packed full of soldiers in uniform, similarly taking advantage of the free travel.

When I got to Bakum, the army's main reception and sorting Base, I went to the "Mador Beinish," the Hesder boy's desk, and handed in my ID card. I expected to be told that as I had come on a Sunday and was supposed to report on Friday I was in trouble and would receive a court martial, but apparently the clerk didn't notice. I waited rather impatiently for about half an hour, and was then handed two pages and my original blue ID card and sent on to the Mador HaMishtachrerim, where I would return my original ID along with my uniform.

Unfortunately about three weeks before I finished my active service I was granted a week's holiday, and upon my return I discovered that my bed had been moved, and my standard issue army kitbag was missing along with my bedsheets. This wasn't just a mere irritation, seeing as a soldier is always responsible for his equipment. It meant that yesterday when I returned my dress uniform I should have received a minor court martial or fine for failing to return the bag. But when I mentioned it to the soldier overseeing item returns, he shrugged and said it wasn't important! It was almost a shame, I had been preparing for one last big shouting match with "The Authorities" but they just let it go. What a letdown!

And as I was waiting in line at the Mador Hamishtachrerim to hand in my regular blue ID card, I read the pieces of paper that the Mador Beinish had given me, and one was an official letter saying that my official release date had been changed, and that I had not known and that I was not to blame for coming late. The funny thing was, though, that I had known exactly which day to come, and I hadn't even requested this letter - they just presumed that I had been confused! So once again, my big fight with "The Authorities" was rendered redundant!

On top of all that, I was handed a coupon that granted me free public transport so I could get home without paying a penny!

And now I will have to wait in line with everybody else to enter the Tachanah Merkazit. Now that I'm not a soldier, I can't simply flash my ID and breeze past the security to enter the building. Now I've got to wait in the rain like a normal person, have to factor in an extra 5 minute delay into my plans. As a friend put it, "no choger [army ID], gotta wait for a whole 2 MINUTES in line! I have places to go... Oh yeah, nobody cares, I'm not a soldier."

Not anymore.

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