Friday, October 28, 2011

A scooter, a gun and a mechanic

Via Doubletapper

On my way to work this morning I was pulling up to a security check point when my scooter died. Not a violent death like the engine seizing or the belt parting.... just a sudden strange silence where the soft purr of the engine used to be. I tried a few times to restart the engine, but despite making all the right sounds, the engine just wouldn't catch.

Using the last of my momentum I rolled up to a pretty female soldier who, recognizing me, smiled and waved me through. I smiled back and didn't move.

I explained that my scooter had died and that I needed to pull over. She indicated a clear spot off to the side and I pushed the scoot out of the way of the cars behind me.

Once I had the scooter off to the side and up on its center stand, I tried to start it again. It started right up. Strange. Not wanting to be late, I climbed back on the scooter, pushed it off the center stand... and the engine promptly died.

Lather rinse repeat several times... same result. The scooter starts fine on the stand but dies when I take it off stand and put weight on it.

It was clearly something electrical (a fuel issue wouldn't happen so suddenly) so I lifted up the seat and started poking around the engine compartment looking for loose or frayed wires.

Before I knew it, I had several soldiers, police and civilian security people looking over my shoulder asking for details and making speculative diagnoses. Very quickly it became apparent to all that, of the group, I was the least mechanically capable... so I was quickly nudged aside and more seasoned hands began probing and pulling on things inside the engine compartment.

Soon the commander of the check point came over, and after getting an explanation of why I was there, pointed a knowing finger at the guy who was shoulder deep inside my scooter and offered the following advice before strolling away:

"That one knows how to take things apart but has trouble putting them back together again. If you let him play around in there for too long you'd better find a big bag to hold all the leftover parts he won't know what to do with."

The others laughed loudly and some good natured ribbing followed, during which I found out that the guy the commander had called incompetent was a reservist who in civilian life was a mechanic who worked as a senior inspector for the Israeli version of the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Every few minutes a new officer would come over, see my gun sticking out of my jacket and would give me an impromptu security briefing which amounted to some variation on a theme of, "If there is a security 'event' you are not to pull out your gun… even to defend yourself. This is for your own safety. Do you understand?" After the third time I'd gotten the briefing I realized that they weren't worried about me accidentally shooting any of them, but rather, they were worried that if (G-d forbid) there were a terror attack while I was there, someone who didn't recognize me might mistake me for an additional terrorist and shoot me!


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