A Morning at the Traffic Office

6 Jul

Morning Rush Hour on the Ayalon Freeway

Morning Rush Hour on the Ayalon Freeway. Traffic was slow enough to allow me to take this photo with my cell phone.

Today I went to the traffic office in Holon to officially transfer ownership on Peppino and exchange the license plates. I’ve been driving with the seller’s plates and had been waiting for paperwork to clear the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before I could get my new plates.

The traffic office is open from 7:30 a.m. until noon-ish and is only open one afternoon of the week. I left early so I could beat the crowds one expects to see at any traffic office, no matter what your location. I managed to get there at 7:20. I’d brought a screwdriver to remove the old plates. With plates and paperwork in hand I went through the security check at the front entrance. Oops! I’d thrown the screwdriver into my purse and the guard told me I had to return it to my car before I could gain entrance to the building. Good to know the security checks really work here.

I had been instructed to report to counter 6 to complete my transaction. I did so but there was no clerk at counter 6. There was a man sitting in a chair in front of the counter. He said something to me in Hebrew. I responded that I don’t speak Hebrew. He explained to me in English that the counter would not open until 9 a.m. The clerk who usually works that counter was on holiday and the person filling in for her couldn’t come in till 9. Oh well, there was nothing to do but wait. I suppose I’d anticipated this as I’d brought a book as well as my Hebrew notebook for studying. I settled into a chair in front of the counter and began to read.

Before I knew it I realized that some people were speaking to me in Hebrew. There were two clerks behind counter 6 beckoning me to approach. Lucky for me they spoke English well. I explained what I was there for. One clerk, who I assume was the supervisor, explained to the other clerk how to complete the transaction. She apparently had no experience in this kind of transaction. The supervisor left and another clerk came to help out. The two of them were chattering back and forth, banging keys on the computer and occasionally asking me questions. Before I knew it four people were gathered around the counter. Comments were being bantered back and forth, none of which I could understand.

Then I realized something that made my stomach turn. I’d been instructed to bring my passport and had forgotten it. Worry gnawed away at me. After all this, will I be unable to complete the transaction? Those clerks are really gonna be angry with me when I’m unable to produce my passport. I’ve got my MFA ID card with me…maybe that will suffice?

The clerk never asked me for my passport or my MFA card. Soon enough I had the new registration in hand, a receipt for the old plates and an order form for the new plates. I was instructed to proceed to a building across the street to get my new plates.

Said building was a sorry-looking shack that appeared to have been caught in a time warp from the 1940s. Lots of old license plates had been nailed to the outer and inner walls of the shack. There was even a clock, telling the wrong time, that looked like a license plate. Behind the window sat a grizzled looking old man. Again, I was relieved that he spoke English. He took the order form, collected 100 shekels from me and proceeded to make the license plate right then and there. I could hear, but not see, him punching the letters and numbers into the metal plate. Then he ran the plate through a machine that inked the raised letters and numbers. He handed the plates to me along with a receipt and sat back down. But wait a minute! There were no holes drilled into the plate for me to attach it to my car. When I inquired about that, the man told me to bring my car over and he’d attach the plates.

A little over an hour after I’d arrived I was ready to hit the road. Peppino is now fully and legally my own. I headed back on the Ayalon freeway back home and got caught smack dab in the middle of rush hour traffic. I guess that was the only typical thing that happened this morning.


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