Monday, August 4, 2008

Israeli Bureaucracy Wears Me Down

Israeli bureaucracy is renowned. Today though, was a classic bad day. One of those few occasions when I actually felt ground down by it all and reminisced about the efficiency of ‘back home’.

The day started with a trip to the bank. I needed to withdraw cash from my UK account. I went to three cash points, each told me the ‘service is not available’. I phoned my bank; no problem with the card or the account. No known reason, just ‘dafka’.

I had to get cash out to buy some sterling for a business trip my husband is going on this week. I asked if I could withdraw money from my credit card. ‘Yes,’ they said. I presented them with my UK credit card and my ID card. ‘No,’ they said, ‘come back tomorrow with your passport’.

I tried to get cash out of my Israeli account; the machine ate my card. I put the number in just once and it swallowed it right up. I have had an ongoing problem with the bank. I have a standard monthly statement and a Visa statement. The Visa statement they manage to send to my correct address but my monthly statement still mysteriously gets sent to my old address, even though I have tried to get it diverted. In the end I just gave up. Apparently my card may be out of date and the new one may be at my old address. Totally great!

Three cards; no cash.

This evening I had to take the baby to the Dr. The chicken pox is thankfully subsiding but she has picked up a cold and it has gone to her lungs. My son went to the pharmacy to pick up her prescription for antibiotics. The pharmacy phoned me up to tell me my daughter has been taken off our health care plan. The same daughter who went to hospital with me earlier in the week and whose health care card worked just fine then. I spoke to a representative from the health care company who insisted she must have been removed. He told me my husband must have removed her if I didn’t! Luckily the pharmacy knows us and still supplied the prescription.

So now I have a whole list of jobs for tomorrow:

• Try to get my swallowed up card returned.
• Go to the bank with my passport to get some cash.
• Try again to change the out of date address they have on file for me for some of their services (but not others!)
• Try to find out if a new cash card has been sent out and is floating around and in danger of being used fraudulently.
• Get my daughter re-instated on our health care plan.

Most people who know me would tell you I am a positive, calm, patient person. I am very British; I like to queue, I apologize to you if you bump into me, I drink tea all day long, I like good manners.

Today I feel tired. Tired of trying to sort things out in a language that is unfamiliar to me. Tired because my daughter has had one illness after another. Tired because sometimes being an olah is so frustrating and difficult.

So I ‘took five’. I sat in my garden, overlooking the Shomron Hills. I took in the view and breathed in the fresh, cool night air. I made myself remember why I came here and I returned to the house with the strength and determination to tick off all my ‘to do’s’ tomorrow.

Sharona B