Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Car Wars

Listen, if you can help it, NEVER get int o a car accident in Israel.  I mean, well, never get into a car accident anywhere, but if you thought you experienced red tape in your own country, you ain't seen nothin yet.

Here is how we spent our time over the last two days:

  1. Gathered all of the necessary phone numbers and addresses - put the addresses in Waze so we can find where we have to go.
  2. Go to the Police Station in Rehovot.  Found the building, found a place to park (itself a miracle).
  3. Sit in a waiting room and try to fill out a form in Hebrew, guessing at what a lot of the questions were.  It was probably a question like, "How did the accident happen?"  But our answer probably sounds like "It was a sunny day."
  4. Finally barge into a room, after waiting 1/2 hour, and ask the woman if we are next.  Not only are we not next, she says, we are in the wrong place.  Go upstairs!  Second floor!  Ask for Zamir! [But did you get that I barged in?  How Israeli of me!]
  5. Go upstairs (which is, of course, floor #1 - don't ask), and find Zamir.  Friendly guy.  He says, "sit in those chairs outside my office until the person across the hall has time for you."  There is one person ahead of us.
  6. We wait 1/2 hour (see a pattern here?)
  7. I go back to Zamir and ask if we really have to wait this long.  This is my new strategy here - wait a bit and then ask if you REALLY have to wait.  So I kinda show a pitiful face.  Zamir softens and asks to see my papers.  He says, "Oh, you've been waiting in the wrong place!  You need to see Gabi!  He will be here in about an hour or so.  Go, sit THERE and wait for him."
  8. THERE is about 2 steps down the hall.  We are in front of Gabi's office.  It is a little frightening that the sign on the office door does not name anyone called Gabi as one of its inhabitants.
  9. We wait 1.5 hours, during which Zamir, who has not forgotten us, tells us that Gabi is indeed on his way. Via South America, it seems.
  10. GABI SHOWS UP!!!!  We practically kiss him.  He asks if he can have 10 minutes for lunch.  We say, "Sure, no problem!"  We are so happy he is: a. Real and b. There, that he could tell us he's only going to meet a woman, get engaged, get married, and have a child and we'd still wait patiently.
  11. Gabi finishes lunch after about 30 minutes [pattern]
  12. Then we get to go into Gabi's office.  Gabi, it turns out, was the investigating policeman at the scene and needs to get a statement from My Husband, the Criminal.
  13. We spend 2.5 hours giving the statement and answering questions.
  14. During this conversation, Gabi starts talking about the judge and the court.  Judge? Court? Now we get it - it's a traffic violation, therefore a crime,  and therefore the "perp" (love that word) has to be interrogated.
  15. THEN we are told that we have to go to the police garage and show them a paper, and pay them, and then they can release the car to the towing company to take it to the garage for repair.
  16. The police garage is in another city.  It is too late to go there.  We have to go tomorrow.
  17. I ask (I am so smart), "Please give me the address and phone number of the police garage."  Gabi makes like 10 phone calls and finds this information out and writes it down for me.
  18. We review next steps 32 times because by now we are totally confused.
  19. We go home and rest.  Then call the garage.  The number is wrong.
  1. I [smart!] call the Police station in Rishon Letzion, where the lot is located.  They give me the correct number of the police lot and they tell us to just come over.
  2. We go to the police garage, which is not a police garage at all - it is a private garage which apparently the police use - so dumb us we were looking for police signage.
  3. At the police garage there is a little shack.  Outside the shack, on a gravelly square of land, are three couches covered in middle-eastern looking blankets, and a little table too.  Apparently this is the reception area.
  4. We open the door.  An old man is sitting in the shack drinking tea. On the customer side of the desk. I ask, "Do you work here?"  He says , "Yes, what do you need?"  I need to release my car.  "Next door," he says.  We open Door #2 of the shack.  There is one woman with a desk and a computer.  I am NOT making this up. I was sure Jethro and Ellie May were going to come round the bend any time.
  5. We pay them, and they give us this form saying the car is released.
  6. Then we have to contact the insurance company so that they can contact the towing company so that they can take it to the garage.  This involves several Hebrew phone calls and me learning the word for towing.
  7. We then are told we have to go to the garage and fill out more paperwork.
  8. We go to the garage. We fill out the paperwork
  9. They tell us - now you have to wait until the tow truck shows up with your car.
  10. We wait about 45 minutes, and then I've just about had it.
  11. I ask, "Do we really have to wait for our car to show up?"  They say, "No."  Huh.
  12. We sign more papers and they arrange for our rental car.
  13. We go to the rental car place and they say the car is ready.  The woman behind the counter mumbles a long litany to us in Hebrew, which neither of us understand but we're so exhausted that we smile and nod and agree.  She probably asked us if we were willing to hand over our first born if anything happened to the car.  [So, Gila, sorry about that, but they seemed nice so you will have a happy life, in Rishon LeZion. I promise to come visit.]  The best part was that we didn't have to wait too long.  
So now we wait to hear from the police about court, and who knows what else will surprise us.  We probably did this totally the wrong way and lawyers all over Israel will be using this as a test case for dealing with stupid Americans. 

But we are home.  We have a car to drive.  And our pretty little red Hyundai (which, by the way, the Israelis pronounce YUNDYE so you don't pronounce the "H" when speaking about these cars) is getting fixed.

Nap time.



  1. Seriously, I need a nap just reading this.
    BTW, how could a car rental place not have anyone who speaks English? Or have I just been living in Jerusalem too long? ;)

  2. Sounds like the District of Columbia, i.e., a third world country....