September 8, 2006: Not a Problem

Last week, our phone and Internet connection stopped working. I made a quick call to Bezeq and was assured that a technician would be speedily rushed to the scene that day. I was pleasantly surprised when a Bezeq guy did indeed show up not much later. He climbed a ladder, used some tools, and told me to wait “five minutes.”

Several hours later, I called Bezeq (on my cell phone) to inquire about the well being of my technician and whether I should expect him later that evening for dinner. When I told that nice young lady at Bezeq that he had promised to return in “five minutes,” I actually heard some laughter over the phone. “No, no,” I was told. “You have a bigger problem, you need a, eh…, bigger technician. Understand?”

Well I can’t really say I did understand the need for a bigger technician, but I did request that they come very soon to fix the phone. Bezeq actually said “Yes, he will definitely come tomorrow…. And if he doesn’t come tomorrow, then he will come the next day.”

Now it was my turn to laugh as I asked the person if she knew what the word “definitely” actually meant. She insisted that she did and that the technician would actually come the next day…. Or maybe the day after that.

Later on, I got a call from a customer service manager saying that he was very sorry for the problem. The technician would in fact come…… the next week. The reason, of course, was that we live in a dangerous area, and I guess you just can’t have telephone repairman wandering around the West Bank unaccompanied. (I hope the original technician got home o.k.)

Now, I could go on and on and recount the wonderful adventures of getting someone to repair my telephone, but the bottom line is that it works and I am back online. The funny thing is, if you talk to anyone here, people have so many similar stories. For some reason, some people view the occasional problems with customer services ( o.k., not so occasional), as a terrible tragedy, rather than the comic opera that is just one more part of life in Israel.

But of course, it’s not. We have real tragedy here. We have things to make one cry and look to the heavens and demand an answer to terrible events that we have no answer to. Things happen that make us come home and hug our children and never want to let go. A broken telephone can be annoying, a woman promising a repairman will “definitely” come the next day without knowing what the word means is upsetting, but they are not the end of the world.

I spoke with a guy on the Yishuv who was one of Neve Daniel’s first residents over twenty years ago. Long before the beautiful villas with red roofs and sukkah porches, hardy souls came here and lived in tents before they even got the luxury of caravans. Forget telephones: running water and electricity were the main priorities. Think the wind is bad now? Imagine it with no walls! Another woman told me about having to melt snow for water for her children. E-mail? There was not even a post office.

I am hardly innocent of sometimes forgetting that we are living the historical dream of a nation and sometimes focusing on the minor problems of modern life. But at the end of the day, we will get our phone lines, our Internet, and our delivered pizzas. And maybe having those luxuries will give us time to reflect on how fortunate we are each and every day that we see the sun rise here in our beautiful promised land.

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