by admin

It has been a long time since I last posted an entry on my blog.  I have been busy traveling, attending the High Holidays services and applying for a course at MUM.

And now that I have a 6-hour layover in Minneapolis, I can finally rest. I am writing this blog entry at a coffee shop near the bus station.

When I told my friends that I was going on a 21-hour bus trip across the midwest, they cringed.

“No, it won’t be that bad,” I reassured them. I knew I was going to meet interesting characters along the journey.

During my first layover in Des Moines, IA, the bus station was ugly and the TV was loud. There were few people at the station_ all blue collar_ waiting for the 11:30 pm bus connection.

There was a woman in her 60s sitting nearby. As soon as I unloaded my backpack onto a seat next to her, she started to tell me her life story. So I listened. Her ex-husband had wrecked her brand new car and she had gotten injured in the accident.

“Now all I do all day is watch my house,” said the woman, who could barely walk. “I don’t go nowhere.” she kept her 4-legged cane next to her; I had seen her use it earlier as she moved her feeble body to and from the restroom.

After the car accident, she promptly divorced her husband. ”I am never gonna get married again,” she said, shaking her head with disgust.

By now the TV was getting louder. The commercials were starting to repeat themselves as Jennifer Lopez (or a celebrity look-alike) was promoting a car.  I was starting to have a headache; I needed peace and quiet. I asked the newly divorced lady to watch over my bags as I went for a walk.



by admin

I went for a short walk.  It was a beautiful Autumn evening. Then for dinner, I sat outside on the steps of the Trailways bus station and ate my bagel with cream cheese, a banana and drank grape juice. Soon a fellow traveler joined me.

“Hi I’m Lee!” Despite his name, Lee was not Chinese at all. It turned out, he was Mexican and a truck driver. Lee was pudgy, wearing a baseball cap over a white t-shirt with its sleeves chopped off and dirty jeans. He had a missing tooth up front.

“I drive 7 days a week, 365 days a year,” said the man, who works for a company based in South Dakota. “I make about $6,000 a week.”

The only reason he was at the bus station and not driving was because his truck had broken down somewhere in Illinois earlier that morning.

“G-d told me I had to get away from my truck,” he added.

Lee did not have an apartment. He slept in his truck all year-long and even had a microwave and Satellite TV on it. On Sundays, he drove his 18-wheeler to any Catholic church he happened to travel by, parked it, and attended mass.

Lee had been driving a truck for the past 17 years. Without his truck, he did not know what to do with himself.

“My boss said to take a few days off. What do you think I should do?” he asked me.

I asked him what he missed doing the most.

“I like the Ocean, I like to go fishing…” he rattled off a list of the places he would like to live in in the United States.

After he finished telling me about all the beautiful places, I found out the core of him: he was a lonely 36-year-old man, who wanted to start a family … and had an 11-year-old son in the very city where we were in.

“Well, there is your answer,” I said. “Why not spend some time with your son in Des Moines? You rarely see him.”

“I can even rent an apartment,” he said, his face lighting up with wonder.

“Sure you can! It will be a good experience. And you might even meet a nice Christian woman at a local church.”

He thanked me for the advice and said, “from the moment I saw you get on the bus, I saw you had G-d’s light in your eyes.”

“It must be because yesterday was Yom Kippur.”

“Yom what?”

He asked me if we could be friend. Sure on Facebook. As we surf Facebook together on my iPad, he showed me his favorite song: a Christian song with a picture of Jesus in the water. Lee seemed to transcend from the music. When it got to be my turn, I showed him the latest Chabad.org message in my inbox; it’s a cartoon about building the biggest sukkah in the world.

He asked again if could we stay in touch. I firmly steered him toward looking for the woman of his life in church. Because yours truly here, being Jewish, was not interested.



by admin

Iowa farmI have never spent a summer doing absolutely nothing. And here I am planning to stay in Iowa for the summer. Will I have a do-nothing summer? What is there to do in a small town of 10,000 people? Any suggestion? I am living one hour south of Iowa City.