Fight Club (Jerusalem Style)

I recently got into a full fling fist fight with an Egged bus driver.  I haven’t exchanged blows with anyone for 30 years, since I was 13.  Now you know how old I am.  How’s it going?

Although a few times I have been on the receiving end of physical violent.  Around 8 years ago I was ganged up on and beaten by a pack of Hasidic Jews.

I was a wedding videographer at the time and I got a call to video a wedding the day of the wedding.  It never happened to me to get a wedding gig the day of the wedding.  I accepted the job.  I had to pay off my new video camera.

Upon arrival at the wedding hall, I learned that the parents of the bride hired me and the parents of the groom were dead set against a videographer.  I was instructed to not listen to anyone and to video the event without constraint.

I made it through the wedding ceremony but I was confronted by the mother of the groom immediately afterwards.  She put her hands on my new camera and gave me a tongue lashing.  I instinctively slapped her hands away from my camera, my livelihood actually.  Not to do harm, just to say, ‘hey, don’t touch my frigin’ camera’.  Lesson being, if you want to get beat up by a pack of Hasedic Jews, simply slap the hand of a Hasedic woman.

Those Hasids got me pretty good.  To this day there is a sensitive soft spot on the top of my head that smarts when I touch it.  A reminder of a strike I received from a walking cane owned by an elderly Hasid.

Hasidim old and young joined in on beating me.  I didn’t fight back.  I used one arm to try to avoid blows and the other hand I was holding my new camera behind me.  I was tempted to wield the camera like Samson’s lion jawbone but I refrained.

I was also beat up by a collective around 22 years ago in Eilat.  I was traveling Israel and I wanted to make some extra money as a day laborer in construction.  The foreman fired me and had me walk back the next day for the day and a half that I did work.  When I did so, I felt I was cheated on wages so I called him an idiot.  Lesson being, if you want to get beat up by a team of construction workers, call their boss an idiot.

I got immediately smacked in the face by the boss who was in his fifties so I though I could take him.  When I came after him all of his workers came to his aid and I became a pinball in a pinball machine (google it).

They were good enough to pause the abuse and I was aware enough to grab my bag and run away.  I ran to the bottom of the hill until I felt I was safe, unfollowed and alone.  I remember sitting on a bench with temporary amnesia.  I literally did not know my own name.  I didn’t know where I was.  It took a good ten minutes before my name came to me and which country I was in and such.  For a week I was sporting a huge black eye.

That about wraps up my career in physical violence from age 13 to 43.

FIGHT DAY

My 6 year old son and I were the only ones waiting at the bus stop.  The bus that came was mostly empty.  I took issue with the bus driver when he shut the door the before my son was completely on the bus.  He merely had to wait 2 seconds and there would have been no issue.  I protested to him that he shouldn’t be closing the door on people like that.  He told me it didn’t hurt my kid.  So I asked him if he closed the door on my son purposely.  He dismissively said yes and to just move on to my seat.  That set me off.  I was on code red.  I knew my actions in this state were most never the right ones so at least I gave myself a bit of a pause.  But then I couldn’t help myself.  I shouted in Hebrew, “If you did this on purpose you are a shit person (chara shel ben adam).”  I went to my seat still fuming.  I repeated loudly and disturbingly, “If you did this on purpose, than that’s how it is (chacha ze).”

He mumbled a threat to the effect of wait until we get to the next stop.  I ignored his threat and stayed seated, trying to cool down.

I figured that was the last of our interaction.  Good thing for this blog that it wasn’t.

When we came to my stop, the driver refused to open the middle, back door to get out.  There was another lady trying to get out as well.  I shouted for him to open the door, I saw him in his mirror looking at me.  I headed to the front door that was open letting out other passengers.

If I were a better man than I am, I would have simply walked out of that front door.  Instead I took my open hand and pressed it against his head and gave a gentle shove.  Much more gentle than how he used the door on my son.  I didn’t want to harm him.  I wanted to humiliate him.  Lesson being, if you want to get into a fight with a bus driver, then push him in the face with your hand as you walk by.

He didn’t surprise me when he charged at me from the bus.  I was surprised on how effective my initial punch was when he was coming at me full force.  I sent him reeling backwards.  It wasn’t enough to put him down.  I gave him some more.  I was known as a hard puncher when I was taking karate lessons 6 years back.  I made it to second degree green belt.  Nothing to brag about.  I remember it was 6 years ago because I stopped taking lessons when my son was born.

My son, who is autistic, was no longer holding my hand.  I knew that was a bad thing during this violent exchange.  I had in my mind to finish this as fast as possible.  I hit his head in rapid succession and even kicked him hard in the face.  I heard a gasp of fright from a bystander.  A crowd was forming.

Because of the bus driver’s youth, he was quicker than I am.  He somehow took my legs out from under me.  He then got on top and was having his way on me for a bit.  Luckily for me, he did not punch hard.  He even returned to me a kick on the ear.  My ear was the only thing that pained me from after the fight.

I knew if I got back up, I would  tear him to pieces.  I grabbed him down with me and gave him a few hits.  He pulled himself away and that gave me an opportunity to get up.

I was ready for him if he wanted to come at me again.  He didn’t.  I already started to see his face swell.  I yelled at him, “Is this the way you wanted it?”  He didn’t say anything back.

My son was close by.  I grabbed his hand.  A lady yelled out and told me to just to walk away.  I took the advice.  Good advice.  No need to explain this to the police.

I walked to the light rail and got a “Fight Club” rush.  The movie is real.  I felt great.  Not only did I no longer hate that bus driver, I loved him.

It reminded my when I was 11 years old.  I challenged a new kid named Les to a fight after school.  I think that was the only time I ever offered.  I was many times on the receiving end of this after school activity offer.

Les and I tried our best to fight each other in our 11 year old ways.  We both weren’t very tough.  After the fight, we shook hands in a draw and we were best friends immediately for years thereafter.

Waiting for the light rail was a delirious moment for me but I thought, maybe this is the solution for peace in the Middle East.  We should drop our guns and knives and fist fight our aggressions out and become besties from that point on.

Of course the notion was silly.  Yet, I still think there is something to it.  Look at any of the countries that we were able to come to terms with.  Egypt and Jordan and even pre-civil war Syria, once we duked it as equals, there began a certain level of mutual respect and understanding.  We’ve had a sort of peace with them for over 40 years.

We’ll never have that opportunity to go mano e mano with the so-called “Palestinians”.  This is another reason why the “two state solution” is not a solution.  There will always be strife until  this second state felt they were equals and could stand on their own.  We would never let that happen, nor should we.  This second state would never be a fully viable state like Egypt or Jordan.  Somehow we need to address the mutual respect that we fight club men crave.