After basic, I was given a slip of paper to report to the Bakoum. For those who don’t remember, that’s the enlistment center where I spent my first day. What was supposed to happen was that I was suppose to see an assignment officer (or Kzin Miyun) and get my assignment and be off.
I ended up meeting up with my friend David from tironut (basic) on the way there. This was good because I never would have found the way on my own. Once I arrived I saw a few more faces I recognized from tironut which was nice. I had a wait ahead of me, which all in all was not too bad. There was a television, a covered area, and plentiful food- definitely better than guard duty. My wait only ended up being about 4 hours or so.
I was finally called in, and started to get nervous. This is the guy who was going to (finally) decide what I was doing. They said go in and tell him everything you need to say because you will only see him once, which definitely added some more pressure. I went in, and tried to sputter out in Hebrew everything I needed to say. How I was a lone soldier and volunteer, about all my skills, how I wanted to be in the journalism unit, how I was making a very hard decision. I think I got about halfway through before he stopped me and told me there was no way at all he could send me to Dover Tzahal (the Spokesman Unit). I thought that was the end of it, but he said he’d double check and sent me outside.
After another wait that seemed like forever, I got called to the window and was given a slip of paper. The paper told me to go to another office on the other side of the base with very shitty directions. After a long wandering walk (about an hour of being totally lost), I found a nice guy from the Air Force who showed me where I needed to go.
Once I had found I was in the right office, I was of course told to sit down and wait. There I met this guy named Zack- another volunteer from the states who had just finished his Ulpan (the army run hebrew language course). After learning about the program a little I was pretty glad I didn’t go. Apparently it wasn’t all that helpful and was pretty much like being in the army anyway- you wear a uniform and all the discipline and stuff is there.
Zack had been in the Bakoum for four days. I had heard of this happening, since volunteers like us are rare cases we can very easily slip through the cracks of the bureaucracy. Zack was very nice and we spoke a lot about our respective experiences. He wanted very badly to go to combat, but was getting held back by a mix of bureacracy and health problems. It was nice to have someone to relate to and wind down with, especially someone who had such a similar experience.
After we got back from lunch, Zack got his piece of paper. He was being transferred to a logistics support base where it would be easier for him to make the shift to combat once he got healthy. It was great to see him get what he wanted after such a long wait, I just thought how long would I have to wait.
A couple more hours went by and I finally saw another Kzin Miyun. This one was much nicer and far more willing to help me. After some phone calls to the unit I wanted and a little more waiting around- I got my golden ticket. I had the assignment paper in my hand, and was scheduled to go to the big army base in Tel Aviv the next day where I would start going through the bureaucracy to join my unit. I was elated, I could believe it. I started making my way home with a spring in my step and the world off my shoulders.
On the way home I got a call from a restricted number. I picked up and it was the office that gave me my assignment. They told me I’d have to come back to the bakoum the next morning, my assignment was cancelled because it turns out I was never suppose to be in their office in the first place. I don’t think my Hebrew was ever as fluent as when I was yelling at that man on the phone. I cursed, and yelled, and complained but nothing worked. All the guy could say was I’m sorry, it’s our fuck up, but you still have to come back.
So very reluctantly (and very worried that everything would fall apart) I came the next morning. There were far fewer familiar faces this time, but no less people. The place was absolutely packed, and apparently my four hour wait from the day before was abnormally short. The day started dragging on, before I knew it, it was 6pm and I had been there for 9 hours, without so much as a peep as to why I was there and why they had fucked up.
I had finally lost my patience and started trying to be Israeli. I bitched and moaned and complained and spoke to everyone, whether I was allowed to or not. I finally found some sympathetic ears and some people willing to fight for me. They were surprised I was still there, and impressed I had been so patient. Being a stupid American was paying off for once. I was finally admitted to see a Kzin Miyun again, who was a little more sympathetic this time. Unfortunately, that wouldn’t help all that much.
I told him my story again, and he started looking into it for me. Apparently the reason he had sent me to the other office was because he had no available assignments for Dover Tzahal. I explained that they had accepted me and were waiting for me, but that didn’t matter. The only thing he could find from them regarding me was an email that said my service length was too short. He also told me my profile was slated for combat. I started getting really flustered and tried explaining that I had already been through non-combat tironut. He said he had no idea why I ended up there and there looked like there was nothing he could do to fix my situation.
Finally I tried pouring my heart out to him, telling him my whole dilemma, and how I wasn’t sure what I wanted. About why I was here, and why I volunteered and about how I was determined to not waste my time here, and how I was worried I would end up in some dead-end jobnick unit. I told him I wanted something meaningful, either combat, or more-so Dover Tzahal, since it actually fit my skills and it was something I could start contributing right away. My Hebrew had not been this fluent since I yelled at the guy on the phone.
The guy definitely listened, you could see he wanted to help. He told me he was going to send me home. He gave me the night to make all the calls I needed to the officers, to try to forward whatever permissions they had for me to him. Then he said if it didn’t work out, he would do his best to clear up the nonsense with my .02 tironut and send me to combat.
I felt very nervous. I had a lot of calls to make that night. So I did, calling all the connections I had again and all my family to explain this shitty situation. I had gone from holding the ticket in my hand, to being on the verge of maybe not even getting either choice. I felt like shit, and definitely did not want to make the awful trip back to the bakoum early the next morning.
When I finally got there, everyone already knew me. I made some last minute calls, tried my best to check that everything was in order, then checked in saying I had done all I could. I waited another agonizing 5 hours or so before they called me to the window. Apparently, I wouldn’t need to see a Kzin Miyun again, they were just going to give me my assignment. I started freaking out, I was terrified I would see something I didn’t want to see on that piece of paper and would have no more chances to plead my case.
I sat for what felt like an eternity. It was probably only 30 minutes, but I was suffering. Finally I was called to the window again. It took me a few seconds to scan the piece of paper they gave me. But it was good. I got the assignment to Dover Tzahal, I was scheduled to report to Tel Aviv in the morning. Everyone congratulated me (I had made friends with most of the staff by that point) and I got on my way. I was elated and just hoped it would last this time. Now I only had to start thinking about making the move back to Tel Aviv.