Happy Freakin' Holidays.
Last night, in addition to being Christmas Eve, was also Shabbat. As such, we went to services at the new temple in a slightly funky area of DC. The parental units had been dropped off at the door, and I was parking in an empty parking lot right on the corner of a busy street. I got out of the car and a slightly weird looking guy comes up to me and says that it's "ten bucks to park here." As he says that, a strapping young African-American man walking by yells, "no it isn't. It's free to park there, Miss. Don't pay him." So I yell "thank you sir!" and start walking away from the fake parking guy.
Weird Fake Parking Guy didn't like that so he started walking toward me and said, "I told you it's ten bucks!" And I said, "that guys says it isn't," and kept walking away. So he followed me another few steps and said, "I said it's ten bucks!" And I said, "that guy says it isn't!" and kept walking, just trying to make it 4 more steps onto the sidewalk and a run across the crosswalk to safety. I kept moving, and he took a few more steps toward me when the strapping young African-American man who had just walked by came running back, got in between the weird guy and me and said, "What you are doing is illegal. Where's your work permit that says you work here?" As he said that, the weird guy started reaching into his jacket and the rest of the situation happened in a freaky blur:
Good Guy: "Hands out of your jacket, man. Hands out!"
Weird Guy: No response.
Good Guy: (seeing his hands in his jacket rifling around)--"Don't pull that out on me, man! Don't pull it! I said get your hands up! Up! Get 'em up!"
Weird Guy: No response, continuing to rifle around in his jacket (which we find out in a few seconds is for a concealed knife)
Good Guy: "I'm a police officer! Get your hands up!" He pats him down, pulls out the thing in his jacket, spins him around, handcuffs him, and walks him away to the substation, all in what seems like about 5 seconds.
Me: WTF just happened here!?!!! Holy Crap! So, in true urban style, I yell "thank you!" to the cop, cross the street, walk the one block to the temple, tell my family in between verses of Lecha Dodi (the song you sing to welcome shabbat) I almost got mugged, and enjoy the services like nothing happened.
Although, to be honest, I did pray harder than usual. I specifically prayed for the safety of those I love. I prayed for the cops who make it their business to put their bodies in between slightly belligerent white chicks and weird guys with knives. I prayed in thanks for this little warning to next time turn on my heels and run like hell rather than engage a weird dude in an argument over the finer points of parking fees...and I need to send a note of thanks to the DC policemen and women, who get so much crap for being racist or useless or shiftless, but who, when it counted, saved my butt.
That officer, whose career required him to miss Christmas Eve with his own family, put his own body between mine and a knife so that I could share an evening in safety with my family. How do you adequately say Thank You for that?
Because it was a holy night for both Jews and Christians, I thought I would thank him by praying for him with a prayer I always said when I used to travel 6 days a week for work and always seemed to be on planes, in cars in strange cities and in hotel rooms alone:
Tefilat HaDerekh (Traveler's Prayer)
May it be Your will, Eternal One, our God and the God of our ancestors, that You lead us toward peace, emplace our footsteps towards peace, guide us toward peace, and make us reach our desired destination for life, gladness, and peace. May You rescue us from the hand of every foe, ambush, bandits and wild animals along the way, and from all manner of punishments that assemble to come to Earth. May You send blessing in our every handiwork, and grant us peace, kindness, and mercy in your eyes and in the eyes of all who see us. May You hear the sound of our supplication, because You are the God who hears prayer and supplications. Blessed are You, Eternal One, who hears prayer.
Ye-hi ra-tson mi-l'fa-ne-cha
A-do-nai e-lo-hei-nu vei-lo-hei a-vo-tei-nu
v'ta-gi-ei-nu lim-choz chef-tsei-nu
l'cha-yim ul-sim-chah ul-sha-lom.
V'ta-tsi-lei-nu mi-kaf kawl o-yeiv
v'o-reiv v'lis-tim v'cha-yot ra-ot ba-de-rech,
u-mi-kawl mi-nei fur -a-ni-yot
ha-mit-ra-g'shot la-vo la-o-lam.
V'tish-lach b'ra-chah < b'chawl | b'- > ma-a-sei ya-dei-nu
v'ti-t'nei-nu l'chein ul-che-sed ul-ra-cha-mim b'ei-ne-cha
uv-ei-nei chawl ro-ei-nu.
V'tish-ma kol ta-cha-nu-nei-nu
ki Eil sho-mei-a t'fi-lah v'ta-cha-nun a-tah.
Ba-ruch a-tah A-do-nai