Friday, September 18, 2009

Swirling Thoughts #40 - guest post! by bob.

So I leave home at about 11:30 a.m. to go pick up our new car: A used 2005 Mitsubishi Grandis with 65,000 miles for the equivalent of about $20,000. The car was sitting around for the last week for the owner to get his paperwork in order and when we got the green light this morning that all paperwork was in order, I assumed the entire endeavor would take, at most, 3 hours. We (me and my car broker) drive the car and look it over to make sure everything that we requested to be fixed was, in fact, done. The car (a 7 seater so really a van) drives nice. 4 new tires, serviced, tuned up, new fluids, plugs etc.. We go to the sellers broker to close the deal. I put down my bank check plus some shekels for incidentals and I get a form that needs to be processed by the post office for the car to be transferred to my name. Easy. When we arrive at the post office (and wait about 30 minutes for our number to be called) and give them the form we are told "yesh baaya" (there is a problem). It turns out the registration was frozen for failure to file certain paperwork or do certain things that were supposed to have been done during the past week. The owner’s agent says it will take "about an hour, maybe an hour and 15 minutes" to clear up the mess and clear the car. I must wait and have "savlanut" (patience) I am told. So I wait in the car dealer's showroom which is surrounded by grungy repair shops and shady used car dealers.About an hour later it dawns upon me that I just gave up $20k and do not have a car. I have nothing. I forcefully tell both car brokers, in my most lawyerly voice, that "you are not authorized to deposit the check and I want it returned immediately." As you may have guessed, the check has already been brought to the bank for deposit. But I am told, "al tidag, yihiye beseder" (don’t worry, it will be okay). After the second hour of waiting comes and goes, I look around the office that I am sitting in. "What is here that I can destroy (valued at 20k) if the deal does not go thru and they don't give me back my money," I am thinking. About 30 minutes later, stewing and disgusted, right when I am ready to give up and start breaking things, a greasy, dirty man without a kippa comes over to me and asks "hitpalalta minha"? (have you prayed afternoon prayers?) Taken aback by his question in light of his appearance, I do not answer. He asks again. Thinking to myself that I have time on my hands (I am told that the post office closes at 6:00 p.m. so “en baaya” --- no problem) I follow him down a hill along a dirt path surrounded by auto repair shops and half junked cars, to a small white shack (picture above). Inside this run-down shack is a full-fledged bet Knesset (shul) with a sefer torah, bima and all. In walk the neighborhood shady car brokers and various greasy car guys who, by their looks, (clearly misleading,) do not look very religious at all. They reach into their pockets for their kippaot and the hazan reaches into the bima for white cloth "sleeves" as he is wearing a black short sleeve t shirt. Never have I prayed minha with a kahal that had such kavana. True sincerity. A beautiful uplifting tefillah. It then dawns on me: Are these people really trying to cheat me? Their sincere line of thought is: what difference does it make if the check is in my account or in his account, the money is still there. And when they say "Al tidag, yihiye beseder” (“don't worry, it will be okay") they are not just saying it to appease me. They really mean it. After minha and a brief reading of the halachot of succot, everyone leaves, takes off their kippaot and goes back to their respective grease pits. A short while later, I have the car, a bill of sale, but no registration, which I am told, with the utmost sincerity, will be processed tomorrow. Or Friday. Or maybe next week. But it will be done. “Al tidag, yehiye beseder” I am told. Is it not astounding that you can see the best and worst of Israel in 6 hours?

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