Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

The Second Exodus – Israel – CCXLVIII. The Ma’abarot Stage (24 of 26)

Soon after completing my Hebrew studies, and mastering the language of the realm, I applied for the army.  I was not trying to be heroic; I simply wanted to get my military service out of the way so that I could get on with my life.

I was advised that there would be a short wait.  In the meantime, however, I had no hope of securing permanent employment; no employer would hire me before completing my military service.

And so, I frequently visited la lishka to get work.  I got a variety of odd jobs.  This is what I remember after all these years.

Beer has never been my favorite drink.  I simply found it too bitter.  My mom totally ignored it.  Robert since he was a child took a miniscule quantity in his glass, drank it and grimaced.  The truth was that only Nisso enjoyed beer.  But that changed when we tried Abir; one of the Israeli beers.

During supper one night, my father urged me to try Abir; and I did.  To my surprise, it was not bitter, indeed, it had a pleasant taste.  Even Robert during one of his khoufsha (leave) from the army tried it and liked it.  Mother, however, was not converted.  She did have her favorite drinks though, one of them being Vermouth.

The factory for Abir was in Bat Yam.  While at la lishka one day, the pakid (official) advised me that Abir needed temporary workers; would I be interested?  I certainly was.

I worked there for a few weeks and loved it.  Abir was the only employer that was fully satisfied with my performance, and didn`t continually lament that I was too slow.

I spend a fair bit of time on the assembly line; the filled bottles came to me, I quickly grabbed them and put them in a (temporary) container that held 24 bottles.  It was hard at the beginning for I missed half the bottles; gradually I became better at it and fewer bottles had to make the round trip all over again.  At any rate, nobody ever complained or yelled at me:  maher, maher (faster, faster).

Another task was to check the purity of the final product.  The bottles came through slowly and I had to look at the beer; if I was the least bit suspicious, I grabbed the bottle and placed it in a container.  It was hard on the eyes, and I certainly wasn`t asked to spend more than a few hours doing that.

Loading trucks was a demanding task; they requested my help only when it was absolutely necessary.  There were more than enough ovdim hazakim (strong workers) to do this type of work.  Abir employed women, and some of them volunteered to load the trucks.

There were additional perks.  At lunch, you were entitled to one free beer.  I always chose a dark beer they manufactured; it was sweetish and it had low alcohol content.  At the end of the day you were allowed to take home free beer!  I no longer remember how many bottles; what I do remember, is that I never took my full “quota,” the excess was snapped up by other employees; and management didn’t mind such handover.

Nisso loved the free beer, but we never drank all the bottles I brought.  The excess was given to neighbors.

As an employee, I could buy beer at a discount.  Obviously, with a surplus of beer in the house, I never bought any beer for myself; occasionally though, I went with a neighbor who wanted to take advantage of the discount.

 *  *  *

 This was a dream assignment.  The changing room at Bat Yam’s beach were being renovated.  Work had to be stopped for a short period; and so, I was asked to act as a security guard during the day.  There was supply and tools that could be stolen.  Why not close the site then?  Because the beachgoers needed the washrooms and the cantina during the day; in the evening it was locked.

And so all day I sat there watching the sea, the sky, and, of course, the scantily-clad girls.  And, yes, I got paid for doing so!

Before I knew it, I got the news that construction work would resume and that my services would no longer be required.  On my last day, I walked away knowing full well that never again would I get another job like that!

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