Friday, September 16, 2016

Uh Oh

OK, so usually when you put your car in reverse, it goes in reverse.  

But sometimes you THINK it's in reverse and it's not.

Uh oh.

TG I was in a parking lot and no one was walking near me.  My car drove forward into a parked car. Dented my car, dented their car, pushed their car into another car, scratched car #3.

Sounds like fun, right?

Try it in Hebrew.

I was at the local pool, which is actually a sports complex where people take yoga, exercise, etc. classes.  A class was ending and a lady walked out - my luck it was her car that I'd hit (car #2 - mine being car #1).  I asked if it was her car, she said it was and I apologized profusely.

She said "What happened?"

Uh oh.  How do I say this in Hebrew????

So, in my usual sophisticated toddler-level Hebrew I explained that I wanted the car to go in reverse but instead it went forward and plowed into her car.  What I probably said was something like this, because she gave me a strange look:

"I want go back but go front. I hit your car. I sorry."

She seemed to get it and asked if I was ok. Whew, nice person.  Then a couple of guys from the sports center came out.  They also asked if I was ok and proceeded to tell me what I had done - "You see, you THOUGHT you were in reverse but you weren't."  There may be a reason that they work in a sports center and not in army intelligence.  Well, from that I at least found out the correct words to use.

Then (cue ominous music) owner of car #3 came out.  Let's call her "Brunhilde."  I believe her look could actually kill, and I don't believe she had a neck.

Her car had a tiny scratch.  The sport center guys were amused at how angry she was.  I was terrified. Lady #2, whose car was really dented, waited patiently while Brunhilde photographed all of my documents, me, the car, my next of kin, and everyone else's next of kin.  

Sports center guy #1 put his arm around me and advised me to say the bracha of gomel for surviving the accident (I love this country, as you might imagine he was not religious, but that was his advice). Sport center guy #2 became philosophical, "Hey, it's only a car, you are OK, that is all that matters!"

Brunhilde continued to deliver the death glare.

OK, drama over, now I had to deal with the insurance company.  I call my English-speaking agent, who tells me that the women who deals with accidents speaks ONLY HEBREW.  Great.  We talk, we email, all in Hebrew, mind you, yay me.

The next day she writes to me to tell me that the appraiser will be at the garage "in the morning" and I should meet him there.

OK, everyone, what is your first question.  "What does 'in the morning' mean?"  I call her but of course she is already gone for the day (Israelis tend to be gone for the day after 2:00 pm).  So I call the garage! Hahahahahahaha!!  I ask the guy who answers, "When does the appraiser get in?"  He says "In the morning."  

I say, "What does that mean?  7? 8?"  He says "Something like that."

Well, now I"m not nervous at all, knowing that I might get there and either have to wait 3 hours or miss him.

Next morning I compromise and get there at 7:30.  He is not there. Here is how that goes:

"When does he get in," I ask.
"Why," asks the woman behind the counter.
"Because I have to meet with him."
"To look at my car."

At this point I'm pretty sure I'm on Candid Camera and Allen Funt is about to walk out from behind a curtain.

"Because your garage is going to fix it."
"You don't need to be here for that."
"But the insurance lady said to meet him."
"No, not you just your car. Here, fill out these forms and you can leave."

So I"m hoping that my car and the appraiser had a nice cup of tea and talked about how to make the repairs.  

As for me, I went home, having no idea whether or not my car is actually going to get fixed.  I was just so relieved to have it in a garage where it was SUPPOSED to get fixed and not have to figure out how to say things in Hebrew anymore, that I practically wept.

Two days later I was on a plane to America for two weeks.  My car is supposed to be fixed and ready for me when I return.

Please pray for my little green Suzuki.  It's all alone at the garage and speaks only English. 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Not Being "Other"

I was just reading Facebook posts about people putting in for leave from their jobs for the upcoming chagim - this year practically all of October is holiday as we all know, which probably requires the most possible vacation days one would need to request for the chagim.

I vividly recall putting in for vacation around holiday time - "Well, I'll need three Thursdays and Fridays....." or, in more difficult years, "I'll need three Mondays and Tuesdays and one Wednesday.....all within 3-4 weeks...."  And after time off for Pesach, etc., practically nothing was left.

And then, when those holidays were over, how relieved I was!  The absences were done with, I could get back to my regular work schedule.  No more weird questions - what holiday is THIS one?  You do WHAT?

My life of course revolved around some other society's calendar, schedules and holidays.  I was always happy for everyone as they looked forward to their respective holidays, and always had a blank stare on my face after Yom Kippur when they asked, "So, how was your holiday??"

Since I was a teenager, I had a sense of being "other."  In someone else's universe, where we danced to someone else's songs and spoke someone else's language.  No one really understood Jewish Orthodoxy - I mean I explained things and they listened politely but I always felt very much outside of their world.  My focus was on Torah, on keeping mitzvos, and I grew up learning about our people being persecuted time after time after time, with no end.  I just could not explain this state of mind, this frame of reference, and so I didn't. They would not have understood anyway, not really.

Then we moved to Israel.  I'm not going to go into the blah blah about how this is our country, our holidays, you have heard all of that from me. But everyone here has pretty much the same frame of reference - coming out of and still enduring persecution for being Jews, our life revolving around the holidays, our streets named for Jewish heroes, Biblical and otherwise. This is mine.  This is me, it is who I am, and who my people are. Every person around me totally gets it.

The longer I am here, the greater my sense of belonging.  It is so deep, so visceral, that I don't think I have the words to define it.

But for those of you shuddering thinking of how many vacation days you're losing during the holidays, maybe just take a second to think about belonging, and what that means.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Four Years...

This week we celebrated our fourth year as Israelis.

These are things that I've gotten used to saying over the past four years:


  • I do not understand a word of what you just said
  • Oh, please pull in front of me without signalling, and while you're at it, honk at me. Several times. For no reason.
  • I love how you parked on the sidewalk, it's so cool.
  • Hi - the grocery has no eggs.  Or potatoes.
  • Oh, it is going to be yellow outside today.
  • Keep the trisim down, it is April.  We will open them again in November.
  • It is colder inside this apartment than it is outside.
  • No, I do not want the bargain you are offering at the checkout.
  • No, really I don't need after-shave.  Even two bottles.
  • All clothing here is at least twice as expensive as in the US. Whatever.
  • No, I don't know why more Americans don't move to Israel, yes it is their home too
  • Yes, I do understand why you cannot make aliyah at this time in your life
  • I still don't understand a word of what you just said
  • So I have to take this strep stick, go to the lab, wait in line, give it to them, then wait for the results to show up.  Huh. OK. 

But also this:

  • Wherever I go, my entire health portfolio is available on my phone
  • I can make appointments, change them, see test results and get perscriptions online
  • This country is strikingly, dramatically, beautiful beyond words.
And this:

  • I cannot believe we actually live here
  • It's so cool to be living here
  • We live here!
  • We are home!