Sunday, November 30, 2008

I just don't get it

Our city is switching bus lines from Egged to Superbus. Now, this really is not that big a deal. From what I can tell, Superbus is actually going to make things BETTER. They are moving to electronic passes that can be reloaded, they are adding more bus lines which are sorely needed, and they are giving away the electronic cards for free until a month after the switch (at which point they are 20nis so roughly $5 as a one time purchase.)

From everything we have heard they are being superfriendly and superhelpful (what more could one expect from Superbus?) to anyone who calls or shows up asking for help or information. They have set up 2 stands to which people can go to get their cards, both on the current busline (in addition to their office which is also on the busline). They have given people plenty of notice to use up old bus passes and have even said they will accept the old bus line passes for a short "transition period" so people can use them up.

There was a worry that they were planning to turn the whole city bus system into mehadrin (seperate seating) buslines, but they have said that is not going to be the case.

So why are there a whole bunch of people up in arms? Becuase Superbus chooses not to conduct official business in English. That's right, there's no "push 3 for English" option when you call their hotline. No official translator or English speaker at any of their setups (although people who have been already have siad they were more than able to provide whatever assistance was required unofficially).

Um, maybe it is just me, but since when is a company REQUIRED to offer service in any language other than the official national language? Ok, it might be a nice thing. It would certainly be a helpful thing. But more and more I hear people arguing that places MUST offer service in English.

People, this is Israel. Just becuase you have been living here for a number of years (or decades in the case of one person I was speaking to!) and have not bothered learning enough of the local language to ask for your change does not mean that every business in the country needs to change to accomodate you.

Before anyone jumps down my throat about how there are so many English speakers, and people should do the right thing and offer English assistance for public utilities and buslines, etc, stop and think for a minute.

There are loads more Chinese speaking people in Canada than there are francaphones. Does that mean that there must always be a Chinese option? No! As Canadians we expect (and hope) that immigrants will learn, at least passably well, one of our two official languages!

I have said it before in reference to people who can not communicate in the local language back home, and now as an immigrant I will say it again. If you are living in a country you have an obligation to learn enough of the language to understand and to be understood! One would not move to Japan and not expect to learn a minimum of Japanese. Or to Spain without learning some Spanish. so why on Earth do people expect that they can relocate to Israel and not bother learning enough Hebrew to make a phone call?

I grant that there are people for whom learning a new language is next to immpossible. I understand that there are those who are older and have passed the age where picking up a new language is a simple albiet time consuming task. However then I should think it incumbant on them to find a way to cope and not to expect the entire country to bend for them. There are translators available. Make friends with a neighbour. See if you can "borrow" a seminary girl who needs chessed hours for an afternoon. It need not cost anything other than saying, "Hello, I understand that Hebrew is the official language of the country, so I need to figure out a way to communicate for this importatnt issue."

Ok. Getting off my soapbox now. Have a nice night.

1 comment:

Shelly said...

I vote Rachel for president!