Sunday, May 29, 2011

At this rate I am never going to get an electric scooter

As most of you know, I am turning 50 in less than two months. In anticipation of this milestone I have thought long and hard about what would be a suitable gift from my family. Several months ago I came up with a great idea. A hybrid scooter -- so that I could "scoot" around and do my errands without the hassle of our van and with the speed of something superior to my feet.

I immediately fell in love with my plan.

But every time I mentioned this to my children, my husband would call out from wherever he was: "Forget it, you are not getting a scooter because you are too clumsy. You will kill yourself." And with that my kids would scatter, with me running behind them saying: "Oh don't listen to your father. I want a scooter."

Well, yesterday he won by default when I inadvertently committed scooter suicide. Yes, I was walking home from a lovely morning at my friend's house when I miscalculated a crack in the curb, lost my balance and fell into the street, arms first.

I checked my throbbing arm when I got up and, while it was definitely sore, it seemed suitably functional. So I went home and entertained 16 people for lunch. It wasn't until several hours later that I realized the pain was increasing rather than subsiding, and that I probably had to address the matter.

After several hours in the hospital late last night, let me just say this: you are not truly Israeli until you have been out there with the dregs of society. And if you have never met the DOS it is probably because you weren't looking in the right places. Tip: they are at local hospitals late at night. Millions of them. And before you go off thinking that I am referring to the creepy clientele, let me assure you that many of the DOS work in the hospital.

Let me relay one quick scenario before I wrap up:

The Scene: me and my husband standing at the admissions desk in emergency outpatients services. I have had an xray but I am still in excrutiating pain waiting to get the results and possibly get a cast. There are several medical professionals mulling around so I ask if it is possible to get any help or attention. Several of them look at me and then turn away.

Finally Nurse Ratched approaches the desk and I say in a mixture of pain and desperation: "I've been standing here in pain, is it possible to get help?"

See looks at me, quickly assesses the situation and says: "No."

Apparently she also doesn't think I should get a scooter.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Once an immigrant, always an immigrant

I didn't realize how negligent I had been, but after a quick check I see that I haven't written since April. Apologies to my loyal readers.

Fortunately, not writing does not imply that there's been nothing going on. Au contraire. Lots has happened.

One thing about Israel is that is a country comprised primarly by Jews. This is not a news flash to even the most ignorant person out there. But what most people don't understand is that living in a country of Jews means that when it comes to getting a good bargain -- or not being a "fryer" (sucker) -- all of the most clever players are playing in the same ball park. Shopping and bargaining in Israel is sort of like playing in the NHL All-Star Game every day.

Last week one of my friends told me that if I went through my national medical insurer's dental program, I could get a better price on my daughter's pre-orthodontic xrays than if I paid privately -- which, until that little news flash, I had fully intended to do. And, being true to my nature, I am not one to pass up a good bargain.

Off I went in search of the necessary dental administrative offices.

When I finally found them, I entered and asked the receptionist about what I had heard. She looked baffled and then she went off to check with a few coworkers. After they all quizzed me and generally looked perplexed they collectively agreed that "my friend's" information was incorrect. I left.

Once outside I called my friend and told her what had happend. "No," she said. "You went about this all wrong. Just go home now because they will be suspicious if you return with different information. I will tell you what to say before you go back."

I felt ridiculous that I couldn't follow her instructions so I did as she said. I went home.

A few days later, armed with a much more clever and subtle approach, I went back to the national dental administrative offices. I took a number to open a file in my daughter's name. After sitting for about 10 minutes, one of the women at the service counter (who appeared to be doing nothing at all but definitely wasn't servicing anyone) called out in Hebrew: "What do you need?" Apparently I looked out of place.

Armed with better information, I explained in Hebrew what I needed and once again I got that perplexed, baffled look. I was starting to wonder if it was something about me or my hebrew that was throwing them off.

"Come here," she said. "Now tell me again what you want." And I proceeded to do so.

"There's no such thing," she told me curtly.

"I heard there was," I responded -- undeterred.

"Where did you hear this?" she asked.

"From one of my friends in synagogue," I responded.

"Oh," she said subtly rolling her eyes in that immigrants-in-synagogue way. How long have you lived here (it is blatantly obvious from my Hebrew skills that I am not a native)?"

"Nine years," I muttered a quietly as possible. I knew what was coming next.

"Really? Why isn't your Hebrew better? And why don't you know what to do? How long has your friend lived here?"

Since I had so many options on which question to answer first I said: "My daughter didn't need braces until now so of course I didn't know what to do." And then I added: "where do you think immigrants get their information? FROM EACH OTHER!" I skipped the question about my hebrew skills altogether.

"Okay," she then said in very good English. "Here's what you have to do," and she proceeded to explain the whole process to me.

"I understand everything now," I answered in English. "Thanks for all your help."

And as I got up to leave, she smiled a little smirkishly and said: "No problem and say hello to your smart friends in synagogue for me."