Tuesday, May 02, 2006

On Being Israeli

I am becoming more and more Israeli. Here are some examples:

Last week we received a note that we had a piece of registered mail. I volunteered to go get it at the post office. When I got to the PO, the line was just about out the door. I waited in line for a minute and when I saw the manager of the post office walk behind the counter, I said in Hebrew, " Excuse me, but I just have this (waving my slip). Can you help me?" He then shouted to the rest of the people in line, "Anybody else have a package?!" and went to go find our things. He brought back the letter and since it was addressed to Y, I showed him Y's ID card. The PO guy asked, "Who is this?" I responded, "Meshutaf sheli." Translation: "my shared." What I needed to say was "Shutaf sheli" - my roomate! He got the idea anyway.

I need to get my NC drivers license "converted" to an Israeli drivers license. I put this off for a long time and now really NEED to do it. So I researched how to go about it (Check out the Cafe Oleh resources at the JPost. They can be helpful.) and headed out yesterday morning. I was halfway down my street when I realized that I had forgotten my current book. You need a book or something to do anytime you are facing Israeli bureaucracy. Oh well - I'll just send some SMSs or talk on the phone (how Israeli!) while I wait.

To make a LONG story short. Since yesterday I have been to the Drivers License place twice (both times were needed) and to get an eye exam and brief physical. This whole process involved a lot of number taking and waiting. But it's done.

At the eye exam place, I got the form that I needed and there was a whole list in Hebrew of health questions to check off yes or no. When I saw the form, my eyes just glazed over and I knew that I was in trouble. I read the first one - Do you suffer from #@&%$? Ok, I could either just check no to all of the questions and hope that I was saying that I was perfectly healthy or I could ask for help. I asked for help. The lady that helped me didn't know the English word for #@&%$ and we began this fun game of charades - You're tired?! No. You're blind? No. You're sleepy? No. OH! You're fainting!!! Yes! Epilepsy is about the same in Hebrew as it is in English, by the way.

And today - Memorial Day or Yom HaZikaron - I was standing on Emek Refaim, a busy street in Jerusalem, when the siren began. Allison wrote a wonderful post on how Memorial Day unites Israelis. I am glad to be a part of that.


At 5/02/2006 1:50 PM, Blogger Savtadotty said...

Don't you sometimes get the feeling that you've walked into a game of Sim Country? The people who work at the Post Office and the Motor Vehicle Bureau can be fun once you get them on your side.

At 5/02/2006 1:56 PM, Anonymous Aviv said...

I deeply appreciate your solidarity.

At 5/02/2006 3:29 PM, Blogger celestial blue said...

"Do you suffer from #@&%$?"

Oh man, thanks for making me laugh outloud so early in the morning and on no sleep. I miss you, my friend!

At 5/02/2006 9:44 PM, Blogger RR said...

When you said you were becoming more Israeli, I thought maybe you'd started pulling over to the side of the road and using "nature's toilet" like so many Israeli men do (especially cab drivers) YUCK!!

Do you have to take driving lessons and a road test? I'm very lucky that I moved here shortly BEFORE they passed that law for olim. All I needed was an eye exam.

At 5/05/2006 5:15 PM, Blogger Esther Kustanowitz said...

You're funny, John. And these crazy Israel stories just keep getting crazier. What's great is that you're not totally clueless when it comes to Hebrew or fthe country--you've got just enough awareness to have really good stories with layers. Good drama or comedy is all about the layers.


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