As perhaps you’ve heard, three boys, including an American citizen, were kidnapped this week while hitchhiking in Israel. Hitchhiking used to be a national pastime, a cheap and easy way to get from Point Aleph to Point Bet; though we knew the dangers, even my friends and I did it on occasion, with no ill effects. (I lived there in 2000, before the Second Intifada and the wall and everything, basically the last good time.) Now it’s mostly settlers and very religious people who are tremping (hitchhiking), not just because it’s convenient, but to make a point:
With a vast manhunt under way since early Friday as police and the army search for the three teenage boys abducted late Thursday night, the subject of hitchhiking is on everyone’s minds. The three boys were tremping home from their schools in the West Bank, as is customary. It’s a cheaper, and often more convenient way of getting around than the less frequent public buses. …
S., the high school student, lives in Jerusalem, but attends an all-boys school in Kiryat Arba, a settlement next to Hebron. His parents would prefer that he only take the bus, and have even offered to pay for a private cab, but that’s not an option, he said, even though his parents can afford it. “It’s just not normal to take a cab, no one does that,” he said. “If you’re right-wing or an extremist, you take a tremp. Tremping is the norm.” He said he knows how to identify a safe driver, or fellow hitchhiker. They look like him, he said, pointing to his jeans, polo-shirt and kippah. “If I see someone with a kippah, wearing a tee-shirt with a school emblem and with a backpack, I feel like I know him,” said S.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of trusting someone because they look or act like you. (See: Frozen. “We finish each other’s –” “Sandwiches!” “That’s what I was going to say!”) Especially when there’s an economic incentive. (See: Madoff, Bernie.) And of course everyone thinks their own judgment is solid; we’d have a hard time functioning if we questioned every first impression and gut instinct. How do you thread that needle? How do you decide who to trust with your money or your safety? Do you have any good hitchhiking stories, or is it something you’d never do, never never never, no matter how cash-poor you got?
TSA outposts at hub airports, such as John F. Kennedy International in New York or Dallas-Fort Worth International in Texas, collect cash from smaller regional airports, then forward it to TSA headquarters in Arlington. Passengers entering Miami International Airport left the largest amount of change at security last year, $39,613, while people leaving Las Vegas — perhaps flush with slot machine winnings — forgot $26,900.21.
Passengers left $8,207.21 behind at Baltimore-Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport, $5,247.56 at Reagan Washington National Airport and a whopping $16,536.92 at Washington Dulles International Airport, the report said.
According to The Washington Post, Americans left about half a million dollars in forgotten change while going through airport security last year. My plan of action of going through airport security is to dump everything I have in my pockets into one zippered compartment of my carry-on rather than in the bin, though I suppose if you don’t have a bag or carry-on with you, it makes it easier for you to forget (I also imagine people rushing to their gate and leaving their change behind on purpose).
But the most interesting part of this story is that the TSA hasn’t figured out what to do with the money besides fix some signs at the cost of $6,000 because the cost of spending that money could be greater than the money collected:
A similar measure Miller introduced in the last Congress, H.R. 2179, would have awarded the money to United Service Organizations, Inc., the nonprofit that runs in-airport lounges for military personnel. The Congressional Budget Office estimated [pdf] that collecting, accounting for and transferring the money to the USO would cost $1.2 million — $700,000 more than the actual amount collected.
Photo: Dan Palushka