I ended up standing in the middle of the sidewalk several feet away from the bus stop because I wanted to get a better of view of the oncoming traffic to see if my bus was on its way.
Then I noticed a large motorcycle zooming toward me. On the sidewalk.
I realized it was a kind of police motorcycle because I briefly saw them under the street lights, plus they had blue and white lights.
And they weren't the regular police, but yasam (riot police), who are the least refined (to put it generously) of the Medinah's police force.
They aimed their lights right in my eyes, so I just saw a lot of brightness coming at me while everything else was black.
In less time then it takes to tell it, I felt pretty sure they could see me just fine and weren't going to actually run me over, but I took a step back just in case, figuring that they were headed for the street in front of me and not the bus stop with all the people waiting there behind me.
But I wasn't sure how much to move, partly because I couldn't see anything except the police lights and partly because, in their compulsory game of chicken, I wasn't sure what they were counting on me to do: run? Fall back? Freeze in place?
So I just took a step back, then stayed put.
They sped right past my nose, shouting out something I didn't understand (but it didn't sound complimentary), and lunged out onto the street, which gave me my vision back.
Using the sidewalk as their own personal highway, plus the way they postured themselves on the motorcycle, showed how proud they were of themselves and how far they felt above the law.
And they kind of are above the law in Medinat Yisrael, unfortunately.
I was pretty sure they'd done it because I was charedi and certain parts of yasam enjoying targeting charedim (and even have a unit specifically for that), and that was their sport for the evening.
I didn't even bother to report them, mostly because I had no way of identifying them, but also because I couldn't imagine I'd be dealing with anyone who cared.
After all, who would I talk to? The yasam supervisor? I could just picture him thinking, What's wrong with driving down a sidewalk and pretending to almost run over a pedestrian — especially a charedi one? Why, I used to do the exact same thing myself!
In fact, another time prior to the above, I was walking past the pedestrian area of Ben Yehudah in Yerushalayim, and I again saw 2 yasamnikim swaggering around on their motorcycle with fully automatic machine guns slung across their back & black bulletproof vests over their uniform, zoom straight for the pedestrian area.
Wariness stopped me in my tracks as I watched them, not sure who they were or what were their intentions. Their power-trip posturing combined with their fully automatic machine guns and supercilious dash into a pedestrian area didn't exactly say "psychologically healthy" to me.
As they sped into the pedestrian area, I glanced at the more experienced Israelis around me to get a better feel for the situation (because I'd never seen anything like this before & had no clue how to process what was going on).
It was not reassuring to see that everyone else had also stopped to gaze warily at the brazen pair.
Happily, a regular street cop immediately stopped them. He was an older guy who loudly gave them a piece of his mind, using sharp gestures to tell them they weren't allowed to do what they were doing.
The just stared at the furious cop through their helmet visors, then sped back out of the pedestrian area, never losing their posture of I'm soooo cool & on such a gratifying power trip!
It's sort of unfortunate that as they swagger around on their motorcycles, they're armed with fully automatic machine guns, but no one ever said life was fair.
I didn't even think to report them because I figured the street cop would take care of it.
They were actually much scarier than the ones who pretended to almost run me over at the mall (whom I sensed were just playing around, albeit in a very immature & potentially dangerous manner). With the guys at the mall, I felt more like: You're such immature pathetic bullying creeps. I'm not afraid of you. Get a life.
The ones dashing into Ben Yehudah seemed a lot more threatening.
Body language always speaks volumes.
Anyway, my son who served in the IDF for a brief stint advised me that if I ever found myself in the "Yasam playing chicken without consulting you first" situation again, I shouldn't move at all.
"They definitely see you!" he said. "They already know which way they want to go around you, but you don't know, so just don't move next time." (It's hard to convey tone in writing, but please know he spoke in a humorous & caring manner.)
Although he conceded that in this particular situation, my assumption that they wouldn't go around my left to behind me where there stood the bus stop and a group of people, plus the mall itself, was a solid assumption and that in this case, stepping back wasn't such a risk.
But in general, if they're zooming at you and blinding you with their lights, just stay perfectly still until they pass — that's my savvy son's sage advice.
After all, they know exactly what they're doing.
So that's how it ended. (And it never happened again.)
By the way, there are different types of yasam, not just the charedi-fighting ones. There are also units that deal with drug-smuggling in the South and villages with illegal weapons in the Center & North, and so on.
Yasam goes out of its way to NOT place rabid Arab-haters in the units dealing with illegal Arab activity and also not to put rabid charedi-haters in the units dealing with charedi protests.
Needless to say, if a yasam-recruit really hates Arabs or charedim or any other group and wishes to davka get into confrontations with them, the recruit is generally clever enough to NOT reveal his prejudice.
But what if he totally lacks tact & judiciousness?
"Well," said my source, "they place the real psychos only where you have to be insane to do the job."
"Where's that?" I said.
"On horses or motorcycles," came the reply.
Anyway, not to brag or anything [sarc], but just to let you know that I personally did not feel any need to start trashing stores that had absolutely nothing to do with the incident at the mall.
In fact, the idea never even occurred to me.
Furthermore, I did not break into any business whatsoever to steal beer or smartphones in protest of being nearly run over by the police (on a sidewalk, for crying out loud — simply because I looked charedi).
I did not shoot, stab, or assault even one cop.
Nor did I set police cars on fire — not even a yasam motorcycle!