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The Humvee is Dead

By Paula Stern
1/18/2010, 12:00 AM
Sometimes, they say the funniest things. Elie called tonight - he was in such a mood.

"What's new?" I asked.

"Nothing," he said in that tone that suggested I'd have to guess my way into this.

"How are you?" I asked. "Everything ok?"

"Yup." Not gonna help, are you?

"Whatcha doing?" I asked. I'd hit the jackpot.

"Walking," Elie answered.

"Walking? Where are you walking?" Up go my hopes...could he be walking down my block, coming home, surprise?

"On base," came the response and down my hopes slid back to normal. On base? It's kind of lightning out...and raining...

"Why are you walking on base?" I asked and here it came...

"The Humvee is DEAD," he answered in that wonderful voice of his, almost a laugh, but not quite.

"What happened to it? Really dead?" Dead, he answered. "Dead, dead, dead." Something about busted pipe and oil spilling out and I'm not sure what but the bottom line is that rather than driving around...he and the others are on foot patrol.

There's another vehicle...it isn't anything really serious...and given that overall it's kind of a warm rain, life is grand for a 22-year-old commander walking in the rain around his base in Israel.

He wanted to know if he could come home tomorrow to take the car back to base...making it easier for him to come home on Thursday. He called back to explain that he'd get a ride to Jerusalem with a jeep that has to go up north...unless the weather is bad up north, in which case, the jeep won't go...in which case, he won't come home.

"Well, be careful," I told him stupidly, "it's raining."

And then he answered, "REALLY? I'm on patrol...and I'm WET."

Right...I'm the one sitting in my dining room; he's the one outside. I didn't have to tell him it's raining.

I spoke to him about 20 minutes later after more lightning sparkled across the sky. "Maybe you should go in," I said when he answered. "It's dangerous to be out in this, no?"

"I'm back in my room," he answered. "I finished 10 minutes ago."

He's warm; he's safe. It's raining and pouring outside but he's inside and fine. The only problem, of course, is the Humvee...it's dead.