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Flat Battery

ur ca
Our car Toyota Prius

“It’s the battery,” said Etti in a crying voice. “The towing service will have to come again”.


Long ago, when I was still young and foolish, I used to sort out technical problems like this myself. 

People, like my parents and brothers, and my wife, persuaded me that they’re better at handling these kinds of situations than I am. That wasn’t true, but they convinced me. 

Now I sit back and watch as my younger brother Bernard, on a visit from Australia, connects the hosepipe so that I can water my plants. 

Etti switches contraptions on, like the dishwasher, the washing machine, and the TV.

The moment I stopped battling to fix things, a sense of relief, like a burden off my shoulders came to me. This decision was brought on by an egg exploding in the microwave, and I was blamed.

My mother used to blame me, and I would try and convince her of the contrary. Now I know better. 

My technical skills are wasted, as other, more capable hands carry out the complicated procedures. 

Simple tasks, like loading the dishes into the washer, removing the wet clothes, transferring them to the dryer, and watering the plants, can be entrusted to me. 

Ironing, filling the iron with water, and making toast, are the most complex mechanical actions that I perform.

After an hour or so the service man arrived. Out came the toolbox, wires, and pliers, and the charger was connected. “Try starting her”. Straight away, without a splutter, the motor was running as smoothly as could be. 


Back to the Toyota repair station, Etti took a taxi to work. The number 77 bus got me home.

The problem couldn’t be solved. The mechanic pronounced the battery okay. The situation repeated itself the day after. This time we rode to the manufacturer.

According to him, the fault lay in the car's recharging apparatus, not with the power source. The only way to discover the cause would be a costly examination of the motor.

Contradicting opinions were getting me nowhere. Technical inclinations, so long suppressed were awakened. Observing the expert, showed the offending contrivance to be in the trunk.

All that was needed was to open the compartment, touch the terminals, plus on the left, minus the right. 

Energy returned, Etti turned the key and the longed for humming sound was heard. Now I knew where to attach cables, but tomorrow, stuck again, where to find them? That was the question.

“What about a mobile charger?”  “oh yes, we have those”. 500 shekels and we owned an instrument that we could carry with us wherever we went, with cables and a USB plug for a regular electric socket.

The next day my technical skills would be tested. With the power source charged, we could drive with the secure knowledge that we’d be able to get going ourselves.


Persuading people that I was a skilled driver, proved as burdensome as convincing them of my prowess in mechanical matters. My wife chauffeured, slow and talking on the telephone while at the wheel.

Driving around on our various journeys, returning home, the engine off. The question on our minds was "Will our newly purchased portable charger get us going the day after. 

A day later, despite my trepidation, the device did its job. Joyfully, I declared “There you go, no more hassles.”


After all these years I had proved that I was capable of handling technical problems. My spouse could proceed to work and I could go back to studying my German. 

All was well, no need to call the repair man, I did it myself. Using a charger each time going somewhere, was no way to live.

Our modern world isn’t meant to function this way. The efficient system of pressing a button and moving, none of this opening the bonnet, fiddling with wires, etc.

Back to Toyota, they finally agreed that the battery, although recently purchased, was at fault, and swapped it at no cost. Now we haven’t had the problem again.

Fears of stalling assuaged, Grandma was eager to take the wheel and carry out her long-wished-for project of taking her grandniece, the daughter of her favorite nephew, on an outing.

The show was meant for kids, with the popular actress, Nitza Shaul, singing and dancing Flamenco.

The old lady needed me to keep her company on the drive.

3:15, the sprightly 6-year-old jumped in, chatting merrily as the vehicle moved at a snail’s pace, through the heavy Tel Aviv traffic, on our way to Herzilia.

Dana told us all about the things she was learning at school. Deafness left me out of the conversation. The hearing aid helps, but, usually, I don’t hear the person at the back.


Comments made by me aren't connected to the conversation, and everyone laughed at my expense. “What a fool,” most people think, or “What an unsociable person”. Faking listening doesn’t fool kids.


This time it was different. Every word came to me, clearly, in a loud and confident voice. Questions that I asked were connected to things the child was saying and an amiable relationship developed.


Herzilia, our destination, was reached at 3:45 and the show was due to begin only at 5:30.

Parking wasn't a problem. There was a space in a side street just in front of a little shopping center, near the theater, known as the House of the Citizen. a modern building. The entrance was a gigantic triangle covered in glass. One could look in and see the snack bar in the lobby. The place was still closed but the ticket office was open.

Tickets were declared fine at the ticket office was around the corner. Etti and Dana were going alone.

My place would be outside, having a cup of coffee and perhaps listening to the book that I’d been listening to whenever I went on my walks or whenever I sat on the bus or the train.

El Greco malt der gross inquisitor, to practice my German, another, Willa Cather, the Pioneers, for pleasure, and Burma Sahib, a recorded book by Paul Theroux, also for pleasure.

Missing my usual nap and feeling cold, I decided to sleep in the car. After an hour or so I felt rested but wasn’t aware of sleeping. With the engine running my smartphone charged, the news came on.

A family member of one of the hostages in Gaza was being interviewed, telling how badly they wanted their loved ones released. This made me sad for them.

This is practically all we hear every time we tune in to the radio or TV.

The whole country is saddened by this situation. Hamas has done a very cruel thing, holding Israelis hostage as a way to win a war with Israel. Israel will have to give them what they want, namely a Palestinian state. 

A month has gone by, since the new battery has been installed, and all is well, but I’m still not allowed to switch things on or fiddle with technical problems.



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