I was returning from an eventful evening in Netanya. Standing on the roadside of Poleg interchange heading south, I felt good. A fresh new Pixies experience was running through my head, and it was a good change from the 70's rock/blues I was running through during the last two years.
I raised my finger in the best tradition of the Science of Hitchhiking, and a car stopped. It was about 11 pm, all dark but still noisy. Lots of traffic on the Israeli coastal highway. I ran a dozen leaps to the car and opened the door.
Inside sat a male about 40 years old, of Russian origin. I can tell it by the eyes - they're always more cruel and have a touch of insanity than of those who were born here, in the Promised Land. He was sweating and the smell in his car was unmistakeable - vodka. I asked where, first in Hebrew, and then in Russian. He turned down the volume
and said "Tel Aviv".
I wasn't thinking much, having a sudden apocalyptic mood for a nightly adventure. I said "Okay, Tel Aviv be it" and got in.
The seats were leather. The car was an old but well-kept Audi.
The tape was loudly playing Deep Purple. I made a mental note about the fella's good taste and there we went.
There are about 30 kilometers (20 miles) between Poleg interchange and Glilot, which signifies the beginning of Northern Tel Aviv.
Only when we picked speed I noticed how drunk he was. We were going at an average of 180 kph (about 120 mph) and zigzaging like madmen through the three lanes of the highway.
The surprising thing was that he was an exceptionally good driver. The best I met so far, and I've been hitchhiking for more than 3 years.
What gave away his intoxication were his delayed reactions. I have some knowledge about the dosages of vodka nescessary for this kind of condition given his nationality.
I realized my hopeless condition and sudden affection for the man, and began singing along.
He looked at me with a surprised expression, turned down the volume a bit and yelled something about me being the first young brat he meets who knows shit about music.
I thanked him, and he went on yelling how it is his Birthday today and how his life was never better to him.
I began playing around with the idea to tackle him and began my pseudo-shrink mindfucking I so much excell at, but gave it up due to the volume, speed, danger and the fact he was too drunk to understand anything. The music changed as we went. First, the Beatles, then the dreaded Eagles and some Led Zep as we were approaching Glilot. Note that this is considered quite a high taste for both Israelis and Russians.
As we approached Glilot he was fond enough of me to offer me some of his time and a beer in a pub. I agreed, and since we already turned left, eastward, we had to re-enter Tel Aviv through Ramat Gan. We got on the horribly long Zhabotinsky street and began drawing attention. Trying to keep up the same speed as out of the city was a hard thing even for him. By then he managed to yell something about him being a combat driver and a veteran of the Soviet adventure in Afghanistan, the recently discovered U.S army tourist attraction.
I began hearing sirens as we went through two red traffic lights. He realized he was being pursued and right turned into a small street. We raced through tiny overparked streets with the headlights off as I was more and more amazed by his driving. The fiasco lasted for roughly 15 minutes of playing cat & mice throughout the town while waking up the neighbours and spotting assembling blockades, as I was finding myself more and more in a catatonic condition clinging to the Lyrics of "Help!", yelling them out loud.
We hit a dead end. The patrol behind us parked across the street. and about four of them ran towards us. My hands were in the air in no time, considering the current condition in Israel and the possibility of being taken for a terrorist. I was so shitlessly scared they let me go after five minutes of asking silly questions and writing down my I.D number. He began yelling something typically Russian. I think we Russians have a genetic encoding of "Arrest HOWTO" in our genes...
The cops were fairly happy understanding this is not a suicide bomber and I began relaxing. I got my I.D back and started walking slowly towards the next Hitchikers spot on Ayalon highway with a big smile on my face. Two more uneventful rides and I was home.
His name was Vitaly and he warmly shook my hand as I expressed my regret of not accompanying him to the station.
I keep recieving those invitation letters to the Rehovot police station, to my old parents address.
Through elimination of options, I figured out it was about this incident. They want me to testify.
The hell I will!