Thursday, November 17, 2011

Jailhouse Rock

"We're going to jail" said Hubby to the kid sitting next to him on the bus, who smiled as one would when you're sitting next to someone you think is crazy. We were actually going on what I've been calling "an adventure" to visit my son in military jail. He turned himself in last week, good boy that he is, and he was utterly despondent at withdrawal from Facebook, Cola, sugar, Samsung Galaxy phones, and his computer. Plus he called me on Friday night, nearly in tears because his Sabbath food was absolute shit. What does he expect? He's in prison.

In order for us to visit him, there's this procedure where you have to pick up this permit slip, with your ID #, allowing you access to visit the jail. I applied two days before the visit to ensure that we will be able to get a permit. The young woman assured me it will be faxed to my office before 10 am the day of the visit so that I'll have ample time to get there.

"Can't you email it to me?"

"We don't have email"

How primitive.

Then the day before the visit, my son calls to tell me he's moving to a jail further north. Way north,near Haifa. Fantastic. Now I have to do this bureaucratic crap all over again and make a new request for a permit. Somehow at that moment, I felt very Palestinian, waiting for details on my permit to be able to enter some place in Israel and not knowing if it will come at all. Looking at the bus schedule, I calculate it will take us 5 hours and 3 buses to get there. We'd never make it by 1:00, our designated visiting time. I had to think fast and knew that the only way to do this was to rent a car. This was gonna be an expensive day out. I get to my work and there's no fax. No permit. I'm livid. It's a 2 1/2 hour drive and I have only 1/2 hour before I need to get on the road. The military office in Jerusalem is not answering the phones.

"They're probably just sitting there drinking coffee while the phone's ringing" said one of my co-workers.

I get to the office and storm upstairs to get my permit.

"You were supposed to have this permit faxed before 10 am to my office. I'm supposed to visit my son today!!!"

"There's no visiting hours today." said the girl.


"Only Mondays and Wednesdays"

It was Wednesday and this idiot hadn't a clue what day it was. After convincing her that it is indeed Wednesday she ran to get the thing stamped and off we went, while another person in another office called me on my cell to ask me where to fax the permit. "Sweetie, you're late with faxing and we're on our way."

"But you can't get in without the fax!"

"Exactly. Which is why I didn't wait for you. I went straight to the head office."

By this time, all this bureaucracy was making me dizzy and nauseous.

We drive in the pouring rain and when I say pouring it's like a monsoon, without the strong wind, for a good half an hour and the highway is flooded in a few places. We drive real slow. I'm thrilled that Hubby is a good driver and can get through this. We see a lightning bolt hit a power line and we both jump.

We get to the jail 1/2 hour before 1:00 but it's 1:20 before they let us in and only because some giant gorilla of a man, one inmate's dad, banged hard on the metal door and yelled "HEY!!!! THERE ARE PEOPLE WAITING HERE TO GET IN. WHAT'S GOING ON???" and you'd think with him banging and screaming like that, they'd purposely make us wait more. But I guess force works and in a minute the door opened for us. There was a Druze woman who was visiting her son who didn't want to serve in the IDF at all. She said her other sons did but he, the youngest, didn't want to. After 7 years of being AWOL, they finally picked him up and carted him off to jail. Seven years!!!

We hug our son, who is growing a beard because they took away his electric shaver. We hug him some more and feel sorry for him, but he seems happy. He likes his new jail.

"I know so many people here, my good friend is here and the food is much better than the other jail. I had 4 plates of pasta for lunch! My tent is heated too."

They wake him up at 4:30 in the morning for roll call and he goes to bed by 8:00 pm. Far cry from the all nighters on his computer.

We gave him two chocolate bars, the fancy ones he wanted with the rice and M&M's. That's all he asked us for. Other people came with bagfuls of junk food and home-cooked meals, and it's like a family picnic during a holiday when the parks are full. After 45 minutes an officer tells him visiting time is up. They are strict with time.

Everything we spoke about, he was like "no problem". "No problem this" and "no problem" that. We kind of like this new obedient child of ours.

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