Falafel eaters are causing a ruckus.
Israelis across the country have an insatiable appetite for their favorite street food and will not hesitate to break the law to obtain it. Aside from spewing tomato and cucumber salad all over the sidewalk with every bite, falafel eaters are guilty of obstructing traffic and disruptive behavior. It is a very real, albeit covert annoyance, not taken seriously because “That’s how it is in life. There’s nothing you can do about it”, as Israelis are wont to say.
Unlike most modern countries, Israel suffers from three daily bouts of heavy traffic and not two. Standstills occur regularly at midday in every municipality big enough to have a falafel joint. The cause? Moshe has parked his car in the middle of the road to fetch himself and his ten coworkers a sandwich.
Government officials do nothing to alleviate this phenomenon and the rest of society isn’t too eager to press charges. Tomorrow they’ll be guilty of the same offence. Forget about complaining to a policeman. Chances are he’s on his lunch break and it’s his vehicle you’re stuck behind.
Drivers often roll down the windows to shout at the offenders but instead get the hated five finger wait signal by hungry patrons in no rush to move. Combined with the summer heat this can escalate to an enraged verbal attack. “Move your car! You @#$3%$#%$#!” is countered by “matarootze aniochel” or something else equally incoherent as it’s hard to speak with a mouthful of falafel. This has happened so many times in my daily commute that I dream of blocking a falafel eater’s car and then looking at them in insolence when they want to leave. Sweet revenge.
Frustrated drivers should SMS messages to radio stations to inform them of the current road conditions. Instead of the usual “traffic accident on road 1” the broadcaster would announce, “a buildup has formed outside of Shimi’s Falafel Joint in Or Yehuda, take alternative routes to your destination”. Of course this method would never work as local eateries would use it for free publicity.
The Mizrachi family falafel stand, they take their falafel seriously and have put all competition out of business.
The situation is not limited to blocked roads. While drunk driving is considered a misdemeanor or even a felony, eating and driving should be too. Indeed, the falafel stand is the closest Israelis have to a pub culture and entails the same dangers. With one hand holding a pita and the other a coke, drivers resort to their knees to steer their cars, zigzagging all over the road. There should be an amba (pungent mango chutney) breath test against it.
Like everything else in this part of the Middle East, there is no easy solution. Meanwhile, I’m off to get myself a falafel because, as they say, if you can’t fight them, join them.
Update: Hiking in the northern Galilee
A few pictures from the Akziv River from last week’s trip.
Montfort, Crusader Fortress