Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Swirling Thoughts #87 – water, color & time

Mai Eden revisited
Every time I see a Neviot water delivery truck I stare at it longingly. (Neviot being the alternative to Mai Eden). While I was in the hospital, my monthly Mai Eden delivery came. But for some reason instead of delivering my usual 5 bottles of water, they left me 2. And so began the painstaking process of trying to reach Mai Eden and making my situation (running out of water fast) understood.

First I tried the star number. In Israel there are these numbers for all sorts of places – Cellcom, Kotel tours, Mai Eden – that are just a star (*) and four numbers. Yes, Israel is that small. So the Mai Eden star number gets you to an automated menu offered in Hebrew, Arabic or Russian. I try the Hebrew. I let the menu repeat a few times until I think I’ve got a handle on it and I press 4 for sherut (service). “Medaber Anglit?” (do you speak English). “Yes.” Amazing good luck! So I start to explain my situation – 2 bottles delivered instead of 5 – and he cuts me off quickly. “This is sales. I will transfer you to customer service now.” Okay…. Back to the automated menu in Hebrew, Arabic or Russian.

I listen a few more times and then decide to dial a number they are offering for further service. Another star number. I dial it and unbelievably I can understand the automated Hebrew instructions to enter my Teudat Zehut number. Okay so it’s a little weird that the water company wants my TZ but it’s not that weird. It seems like everybody wants that number before they talk to you. So then a guy comes on. “Medaber Anglit?” In perfect and cheerful English he replies, “Of course!” This was really weird. As in too good to be true wierd. And I knew it. But I proceeded. “I usually get 5 bakbookim (bottles) mayim (water) but this month I only received 2.” Quiet. And then laughter. “You want Mai Eden! This is Misrad HaRishui. They have the same number!”

Why does Mai Eden have the same number as the Department of Motor Vehicles? And where was this cheerful English speaking fellow when I visited Misrad HaRishui? So many questions. Still no water.

A few nights later my babysitter from the summer – the one who encouraged me to talk tough with the dryer service people – stopped by with my friend, her mother, to drop off dinner. Right away I put the babysitter on the job. I dialed the Mai Eden star number and handed her the phone explaining the situation as the menu started. After a few minutes she handed the phone over to her mom – and almost immediately it was clear why the apprentice had deferred to the master.

My friend got through – to a person! – with my message, brought back an answer (Apparently my order has always been for 2 bottles but by some miracle my delivery man senses that I want 5 and has been delivering me 5. Perhaps because I was in the hospital and couldn’t telepathically communicate with him this time he deferred to the original order of 2. Yeah, okay.), and stated my request in demand form (3 additional bottles to be delivered this week). I was ready to do a victory dance as she hung up the phone when she said, “I doubt it will come but we tried.” Huh? “But you told them. They said okay. What do you mean?” I was confused. Evidently when you live here for 15 years you learn who to believe and who is to be believed only upon delivery.

Everything that can have color will have color
When I asked Bob to bring me cotton balls and rubbing alcohol from the pharmacy I smiled when he returned with a colorful array – it looked like a variety bag of Israeli marshmallows. And the alcohol was bright orange.

In 4 ½ months I still have not deciphered all the car makes on the road here. Skoda? Seat? “Mini” cars were celebrated in America. Contrast that with the mini as a way of life here. So the cars are unrecognizable and small. At least to me. Then there’s the color…

The most popular car color in Israel seems to be cobalt blue. Especially so for Mazda 3 and 6. A close second is electric salmon – very popular in the Opel line of cars. Tied for third are electric chartreuse (Peugeot) and electric kelly green (Citroen Berlingo and the new Egged buses). And it all just makes sense.

Some time trivia…
We operate on military time here. My kids finish school at 14:45 today.

Phones in the Ministry of Health in Israel are only answered between 13:00 and 15:00 Sunday through Thursday. At every other time there is a message reminding you of this fact.

There are 3 candle lighting times in Israel. They are for Haifa, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. In Tel Aviv the practice is to welcome Shabbat 20 minutes before sunset. Jerusalem has the holy custom of taking in Shabbat 40 minutes before sunset. In Haifa they basically split the difference and welcome Shabbat 30 minutes before sunset. I’ve been told the practice in Efrat (to observe Tel Aviv candle lighting times even though we are just minutes from Jerusalem) was implemented by our chief Rabbi (Rav Riskin) in order to give soldiers time to return to their families before Shabbat.

Now I’m out of time.

By the way, my supplemental water delivery did arrive. Just in the nick of time!

1 comment:

  1. I'm exhausted in just reading this!!! Can't imagine how simple projects turn into such work! My hat is off to you!!!!!