Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Voting, Israeli Style

Yesterday was my first experience of carrying out my civic duty and voting in an Israeli local election. I guess that’s some kind of a landmark. I think however, those monitoring the election process must have wondered who on earth they had on their hands and whether I had the mental capacity to cope with voting at all! I must have seemed a little clueless whilst trying to cast my vote. The whole process is different to ‘back home’ and I didn’t really know what to do or fully understand the instructions I was given.

I was given two envelopes and for a while afterwards stood around searching for a ballot paper inside each of them and looking for pen to mark an x. After a while I realized things were done a little differently here and that I was standing the wrong side of a booth, which was hiding numerous slips of paper, two of which I needed to insert into my envelopes.

Having rectified the error I mustered as much dignity as I could and prepared to post my envelopes in the ballot box. The officiator, having surveyed my confusion repeatedly checked that I had managed to put the yellow slip in the yellow envelope and the white slip in the white envelope. I assured him that (even) I had managed this.

Later on I walked to the local supermarket and brought a trolley full of food. I asked for a delivery and was initially told there were none today (no reason given, just, ‘not today’). I stood for a while considering which items I needed the most and could manage to carry home. Suddenly the loud speaker unexpectedly announced that deliveries were back on.

Later on in the afternoon my delivery arrived whilst I was on the phone. I noticed the man deliver two boxes and then return to his van for more. I was conscious that I had a final box and assumed he was rummaging around in the van for this. Finally, call over, I peered outside to see what was happening. There was no sign of him. Realizing that my final box had not arrived I phoned the store. I established, in the best Hebrew I could, that I had just had a delivery but that my box of fridge and freezer food had not materialized. I gave them my name and address and waited for them to respond. The phone was passed around to a few people and finally I spoke to someone who acknowledged that one box was indeed missing. Rather than apologizing (An Israeli apologizing? Does that happen?!) I was asked whether they could now deliver my box tomorrow. As I needed some of the items that night I said, ‘no’. Their caring, customer-focused response was, ‘why not??’. I began to pull together a sentence in my mind in Hebrew, explaining that there were things I needed. Suddenly I realized that a better approach was simply to treat the question as an Israeli would. ‘Cacha’ I said (‘because’). Israelis rarely back up a ‘cacha’ with anything, a ‘cacha’ is simply enough. I am proud to say my tactics worked and my box arrived shortly afterwards.

So I guess I may be a little inept at all this new election stuff but I am starting to feel my way in dealing with everyday situations.

Sharona B


John said...

I love the idea of living in Israel but I'm worried I'm just too nice of a person to ever make it there. =P I'm glad to see that even we polite Anglos can adapt to telling people to shove it once in a while and getting things done. Bravo!