Thursday, January 20, 2011

Swirling Thoughts #185 - problem with caffeine? there's a teepool for that

One of my favorite words in Hebrew is teepool. This one word can refer to any of the following SEVEN events, depending on context.
1. treatment
2. care
3. therapy
4. nursing
5. handling
6. attendance
7. maintenance
The occupational therapist cannot answer the phone if she’s in the middle of teepool. I cannot get my 10 shekel coffee if the coffee machine at the bakery is undergoing its (weekly? monthly? annual?) teepool. The car, the kids, dry skin, head lice, there’s basically a teepool for every one and every thing. Take Bob’s quarterly cleaning of the fish pond. Officially, it’s the fishpond teepool. But it’s so obviously therapeutic I think of it as Bob’s teepool.

In the meanwhile, I have signed up for ulpan, starting this Sunday. This is a different type of ulpan than before – we have an hour long conversation revolving around a specific theme. At the orientation it was a coffee shop dialogue. There was the ordering of the coffee complete with all the waiter questions (Do you have black coffee? Of course we have black coffee!) and the subsequent small talk while waiting for the coffee (How is work? Don’t ask! Carmella didn’t show up and all the work fell on me!)

Then we went around the table describing our current level of Hebrew. Each person admitted to knowing way more Hebrew than they are comfortable speaking. As it turns out, this is normal.

I, on the other hand, know very little Hebrew but shamelessly use all of it (the same 25 words) for every request, demand and esoteric thought. (Except for when I yoshevet (sit) instead of hoshevet (think).) In short, I characterized myself as a confident caveman.

One of my esoteric thoughts. On coffee...
I mentioned to someone in the health clinic once that there should really be a coffee bar in the waiting area. They looked at me like I was crazy. I probably did sound crazy since I was struggling to articulate this brainstorm in Hebrew.

But I’ve been thinking about it a lot. Both my desire for a coffee bar pretty much everywhere I go (the post office, the health clinic, my kids’ school lobby) and people’s reaction to my idea. American’s seem to be on board. Israelis, not so much. And then it hit me. This country operates from 8-4 as opposed to 9-5. Ganenets (nursery school teachers), shomrim (guards), housecleaners, and the nurses who draw blood start work at 7 or 7:30. They must get up at 5am! People here are accustomed to rising very extremely abnormally early.

My untested hypothesis is that the American’s living here are getting to their 8am appointments/jobs/errands by the skin of their teeth and most certainly skipping their morning coffee to do so while the Israelis arrive on time without angst and fully caffeinated from a carefully planned morning that started hours prior.

The drive to ulpan blee (without) caffeine
As I mentioned, it’s not always so easy to get a cup of coffee just when you want one and so this morning, I made my way to ulpan wishing I’d had just a few more minutes to run to the gas station where, reportedly, the coffee is tops! In a dreamy haze I noticed almond trees blossoming in time for Tu’b’Shvat, independent of the (lack of) rain. I passed dumpster after dumpster, each one being guarded by a stray animal that could have walked off a Disney movie set. Ironically, when I finally did get my coffee, hours later, and went to throw the empty cup in a seemingly unguarded parking lot dumpster, a fat cat jumped out at me and gave me a near heart attack. Note to self: an unguarded dumpster is a jump-out waiting to happen.

I'm thinking about rearranging my morning schedule to make time for the gas station coffee run. In the meanwhile, here’s hoping the teepool for caveman Hebrew is Ulpan.

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