Monday, October 19, 2009

I’m waiting for Number Three – maybe that will be the lucky one.

Yesterday I ordered dog food from my favorite dog-food guy, Benny. As usual, the 20 kilos of dog food were supposed to be delivered -- great thing about Israel: They deliver dog food to your door, no extra charge – anyway the dog food was supposed to be delivered between 4:00 and 6:00 pm. So just before 4:00, I put both dogs on their leashes and secured them to the front porch. Benny’s guy usually shows up pretty soon after 4:00, and I didn’t want my roommates jumping all over the poor kid when he arrived toting the heavy bag.

Sure enough, at 4:05 there was a banging on my front gate. I ran to open it, and a young man stood there. “I have a package for you. Will you sign here please?”

Huh. Well, that was new. Benny has had my credit card number for years. I’ve never had to sign for it before, but hey – whatever he wants. He handed me a clipboard with a form in Hebrew, and I didn’t take the time to try to figure it out, I just signed. But I could see he didn’t have anything else with him, and that seemed a little odd. Why wouldn’t he bring the dog food along when he walked all the way to my door?

“So where’s my dog food?” I asked.

“What dog food?”

“The dog food you’re bringing from Benny. Isn’t that what you have for me?”

“No. I have a package. It doesn’t look like dog food. Wait a minute…. (he reads)….Are you Shoshana (incomprehensible Russian name)?”

“No. I’m Yocheved Russo. Who are you looking for?”

He gave me the name again, and read off the correct address – well, correct, except that Shoshana what’s-her’s-name doesn’t live here and I can pretty well guarantee she never has.

A few more puzzled questions, and finally we agreed he had the wrong house. I pointed him down the courtyard where a big Russian family lives. Maybe ‘Shoshana’ was part of that household.

Ten minutes later, Benny’s guy arrived with my dog food. I didn’t have to sign anything.

I hope Shoshana was as happy with her package as my dogs were with mine.

That capped off last Friday’s incident, which was marginally more interesting.

Fridays are always incredibly busy – I rarely take time to talk on the phone, but since it rang just as I was walking by, I picked up.

“Is this Yocheved Miriam Russo?”

“Yes, it is.”

“Were you a tour guide for a trip to the Sinai in 1997?”

(WHAT???) “Ah, no. I wasn’t. I wasn’t even in Israel in 1997. But if I had been, being a tour guide for a trip to the Sinai sounds as though it would have been fun.”

“Are you sure you weren’t on that trip?”

“Yes. Very sure. Who’s calling please?”

“Please just listen to me for a minute. This is going to sound strange, but give me a minute to explain. I’m really not the one who wants to know. It’s my friend, here, who’s visiting from Switzerland. You can talk to him in a minute, but what happened is that he came on a visit to Israel in 1997, and he took this guided tour of the Sinai. Their tour guide was a woman named ‘Miri Russo’, and he was thinking that might be you.”

“That’s pretty interesting, but it wasn’t me. Where did you get my phone number?”

“From the phone book.”

“Oh. (Duh) But why would your friend think that I, with a different first name, and living in Beersheba a dozen years after he met her, would be the same person?”

“I think I’ll let him explain that to you. Will you talk to him?”

Of course I said I would. I’m leaving out names here to protect the innocent, but the story the gentleman from Switzerland told was the stuff of novels.

It seems that on that tour back in 1997, the Swiss gentleman had become more than a little twitterpated with the tour guide the Jewish Agency had assigned. He said he’d been very shy, back then, and hadn’t dared ask her for any contact information when the trip was over. Even so, he’d never forgotten her, or how much he’d enjoyed being in her company.

Then, a dozen years ago last May, back in Switzerland, lurking and prowling on the internet, he came across a newspaper article written by ‘Yocheved Miriam Russo.’

“It made such good sense,” my new Swiss friend said, “It sounded just like her. I was just sure it was the same person. It had to be. So I kept the article and brought it with me to Israel. I thought that once I was here, my friend in Ra’anana would help me, and we’d track you down.”

“That’s very touching, really. I did write the article, but I was not your tour guide. Actually, the name ‘Russo’ isn’t uncommon in Israel. The biggest locksmith in Beersheba is ‘Russo’s’ and it’s just a few blocks from me. There are Russo’s all over the country. Maybe you should try some other Russo’s.”

“Are you really sure you weren’t a tour guide in 1997?”

“Yes. Very sure.”

Nevertheless, we all chatted for a while longer, lamenting the fact that today, a tour of Sinai would be totally impossible, so it was a good thing he saw it when he did. It was all very cordial. We exchanged names and phone numbers, and we all agreed that if I ever got to Ra’anana, or if any of them ever came to Beersheba, we would get together for coffee.

Too bad it wasn’t me – I would have loved to have seen the Sinai. And to have been in Israel in 1997 working as a tour guide.

So here’s what I’m thinking: maybe the third time’s the charm. Maybe the next person who comes looking for me will actually be looking for me.

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