Saturday was meant to be shopping day, wailed one vociferous member of the press pack. “I am not Shabbat observant, Eli Yishai will not dictate my life,” this prominent TV journalist loudly protested, referring to Shas’s ultra-Orthodox interior minister.
But Peretz would brook no dissent: “People, there’s nothing I can do. We can’t do anything on Shabbat, and that’s the end of this discussion. Your suitcases need to be checked in by Friday afternoon.”
“That’s pathetic. We’re not sheep. Find me a solution,” the journalist retorted.
But no solution was found and, as the black SUV was fighting its way through the New York City traffic, the dozen journalists started arguing instead about the air conditioning. For some it was too hot; others said they were freezing to death. And that’s when the real trouble hit. All of a sudden, our SUV ground to a halt in the middle of the road — in the middle of a tunnel, that is, somewhere on FDR Drive.
At first, we joked that the switching off-switching on of the air conditioner had caused the breakdown. But then we heard the driver call someone on his cell phone: “We’re having a problem — we just ran out of gas.”
Then one of us stopped a yellow school bus. Luckily, it was almost empty — only the driver’s companion was on board. And, amazingly, he agreed to ferry us forward toward our date at the UN.
But the suit-and-tie-clad driver of the stranded black Secret Service SUV protested. “Do not get on this bus, it has not undergone any security checks,” he insisted. “I can’t guarantee that I can get this vehicle anywhere near the hotel or the UN.”
Nobody cared. We boarded, shaking our heads at the absurdity. It was a rather small school bus, and some of us remained standing. No matter. The driver slowly fought his way through the traffic toward our destination.
“This has never happened to us,” Peretz said, speaking to other PMO officials on the phone. “How can they run out of gas in the middle of the road?”