Springboard Blog

Springboard Blog

How my Israeli taxi driver got me a bike and taught me chutzpah: By Molly Kazan

 Permanent link   All Posts

Bicycle

Before I started working for Springboard I spent a year living in Latvia and Israel while working for JDC, a global Jewish organization. That’s where I learned about a program in Poland called Ride for the Living: a 60 mile bike ride from the Auschwitz concentration camp to the Krakow JCC. A month before the ride last summer, I decided to start training and figured the best way was to find a bike to ride around Jerusalem (a huge challenge with all of Jerusalem’s hills!)

After researching various bike shops across Jerusalem, one shop recommended I check out a Moshav (similar to a Kibbutz, a cooperative farming community) outside of town. The bike shop gave me the number of some man who sells bikes for resell at the Moshav. As such, this contact became “Bike Man” in my phone because I never got his name. I called Bike Man one morning and he said he was getting ready to head to Tel Aviv soon, but if I jumped in a taxi, I could make it to the Moshav and he would wait for me. My Gett Israeli taxi app wasn’t working and I didn’t have any cash on me, so I hailed a cab the old fashioned way. The first driver wouldn’t take me to an ATM to get cash for the ride, but the second driver would. This is how I ended up in Avi’s taxi cab.

Avi wore a kippah and spoke to me like the silly young American I am. I quickly tried to establish credibility by aggressively speaking Hebrew and asking him how long it would take to get to this Moshav because I wanted to catch Bike Man before he left. Avi aggressively replied in Hebrew: “why are you going all the way out to the Moshav?! It’s too far!!” I explained in broken (but pretty impressive) Hebrew that I was going to meet Bike Man and see what he had to offer. Bike Man said his bikes were about 500 shekels ($140) and being the silly young American I am, I figured that was a good price for a bike in this town to immediately help me “train” for the Poland ride.

Avi, being my new favorite Israeli, immediately declined this request and said he would spend the morning helping me find a bike in town because it was incredibly ridiculous to drive out to the Moshav. Thank goodness for Avi. We drove near the Shuk (market) to two different bike shops and I waited in the taxi so Avi wouldn’t get a ticket while he went in and negotiated for a good bike for me. He came back out of the second bike shop and told me to wait 20 minutes, and that I would be paying 350 shekels ($100) for the bike, new chains, and new breaks. Avi told me he had just bought his 10-year-old son a bike from a similar shop, and that I should absolutely not let them rip me off by paying one cent more for the bike, and to hold my ground like the smart Israeli-with-chutzpah I am.

About an hour and a half later (I got lost thanks to not knowing my way around Jerusalem without staring at Google Maps or Moovit), I parked my bike and walked into work out of breath and exhausted (lesson learned: Jerusalem hills are intense.) All thanks to Avi the taxi driver, and his insistence that we don’t schlep out to see Bike Man. Thank you Avi, for teaching me the value of grit, persistence, and Israeli chutzpah. Yom Ha’atzmaut Sameach!