Winter. Pitch dark. Freezing cold weather and flash flood warnings lingering. The phone rings- it’s the Head of one of the local boarding schools: “Hi, I am missing one of my students. He’s a 14 year old boy, and was accidently left at one of the rivers (Zinn) during our hike. Search and rescue teams, canine units, mounted policemen and a helicopter, all begin to search. In the meantime, a message on the radio “the river is filling up and flowing…….”
I immediately realized that we have less than 2 hours to rescue this boy.
More troops and forces are making their way down to the river, all wearing bright orange jackets, carrying a lot of gear, and armed with adrenaline. All vehicles have blue flashing lights.
We weren’t able to find him. We start feeling the frustration but are determined for this to end well.
Suddenly, the plot twists- 2 ‘search and rescue’ veterans, Uzi and Issy arrive on the scene. They got a text calling them to action, but they took their time, drank a cup of coffee, and made sure their crop- duster was ready for tomorrow morning. 3 hours later, realizing the boy had yet to be found, they got into their old pick-up truck and drove to the scene. They weren’t wearing bright orange jackets, nor did they have blue flashing lights. They arrive, come up to me and ask for instructions. I look at them and make the executive mistake of saying: “Guys, I am under a lot of pressure at the moment, if you want to help, go make coffee for everyone.”
Coffee? Both Uzi and Issy are deeply offended by my request. My deputy looks at me and says: “Elad, you are talking to 2 of the founders of our ‘search and rescue’ unit, you can’t tell them to go make coffee.” He’s right. I look at them again and this time I say: “Take your pickup truck and search the same area that the other jeeps have searched.” The size of the area I sent them to is around 2 km. We had already searched that area in every possible way, including with a helicopter but had no luck. 5 minutes later, a call over the radio comes in “Good evening everyone, how are you all doing?” My deputy replies: “Keep it short, we are in the middle of a ‘search and rescue’ mission.” Next thing we hear is: “We found the boy!”
I couldn’t believe it. I tell my deputy to tell everyone to keep looking. He looks at me with a bewildered look on his face and says, “But they just said they found him.”
“They found Ben Lulu”
Uzi and Issy’s pickup truck pulls up. They get out and start heading towards us. As they get closer, I notice Ben Lulu- our missing teenager.
They walk up to me and say: “Sir, here’s the coffee you ordered.”
I manage to mumble a few words on the importance of our ‘search and rescue’ veterans and then turn to Ben Lulu and ask:
He looks at me and says: “We were hiking, having a great time. I really needed to go to the bathroom, but I was too shy to say anything, so I moved away from the group, relieved myself behind a rock and when I was done my friends were all gone. I couldn’t see anyone. I sat on the rock and started to cry. Hours went by until these 2 men finally found me. End of story.”
“End of story? Didn’t you see all the ‘search and rescue’ units looking for you? The policeman? The blue flashing lights?”
“No, I didn’t see any of that.”
“So, what did you see?”
“All I saw was the police”
“Ok, and what’s wrong with the police? We are all volunteers of the police force and we were all here looking for you”
“A few months ago, there were some altercations between the police and the ultra-orthodox sects in Jerusalem. After everything had calmed down, the head of our Yeshiva said: “Don’t engage with the police, at all. From now on, if you see police forces, leave and disengage.” So, I did. And then a few hours later, these 2 guys arrived, they weren’t wearing orange jackets and didn’t have blue flashing lights. They were calling my name, so I knew they were ok.”
And that’s the story of Ben Lulu and the blue flashing lights that reminds us all to stay humble, with both feet on the ground but still aim high and never give up.