Monday, November 23, 2009

Going Postal

The Israeli postal system is not known for their quality customer service. In regular Bet Shemesh there are 4 branches to choose from. There is only one branch to server both RBS A & B. The customer service there is lousy and has gotten worse since a change in ownership during the summer. The bad service problems are compounded by the fact that many people in the local community use the post office for all of their banking needs.

I had to go to the post office on Friday to pick up a package, some shipping and buy supplies. I completed messed up my schedule and arrive around 11:00. To help increase service during such a busy time there was only one teller working. This branch relies on the honour system for holding places in line. It allows the elderly to sit on the few chairs in the waiting area and have people fill out documents without losing their place in line. It also allows people to reserve their spots in line while they go and run their own errands. This makes it incredibly difficult to figure how long the line actually is.

First a woman who was not in the post office comes to the entrance and asks if anyone has seen their baby. She continues her path towards the direction of the main street. She finds her toddler and returns to the post office finding her way to the front of the line a short time later. She tries to do whatever she was doing with just her Teudat Zehut number. The teller insists she cannot help without the proper forms. A shouting match ensues. All I got from the shouting was failure to process the transaction was the reason there was no gas in the car. Eventualy some pieces of paper were exchanged and the woman went away. It is very difficult for a teller to do her job while yelling at an other customer.

12:00 closing time arrives and I am still in line. The teller finds the last people in line and makes him in charge of keep the door locked and letting out customers. 10 minutes later someone walks into the branch. He is told that the branch is closed but insists that someone was holding his spot in line and refuses to leave.

The teller calls the police. He pulls out his address book and phones the branch manager. He puts the manager on the phone with the teller who let's him know that he will not be served. Some how the guy still thinks he has a chance of receiving service. A little while later the police call back and ask if the man is still there. At that point the man decides it is a good idea to leave. A police officer shows up a short time later. I don't know what kind of gun he was carrying but it was larger than what the soliders normally carry. He is also holding it directly in front of him. Considering they normally just hold pistols I guess the were taking the situation very seriuosly.

With all of the excitment and pressure of a long line, my Hebrew failed me for the purchases I needed to make. The person behind me in line was kind enough to feed me the Hebrew words since the teller did not speak any English. Unfortunatly neither did the person behind me. The teller ended up yelling at me for asking for the wrong thing. I am hoping to get a ride to Sheinfeld this week to take care of the rest of the mailing.

RBS A really needs a post office. It is the only solution to stopping the misery of going to RBS B for postal needs.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Singing in the Rain

The awareness of the implications of the weather is very strong here. The summers are hot and dry and the winter we hope for rain. Year after year of drought has lead to the water levels to drastically drop in the Kineret, Israel's main source of water. Things have gotten so bad that they have had to redraw the red line indicating that the water level has hit critical levels. Of course there is variations in different regions.

There is a constant awareness of water levels. This summer a cap went in on water usages with a huge penalty for going over the limit. The number of people living in a home had to be reported to the water authority to make sure the cap levels are applied correctly. Channah is well aware that wasting water brings down the water level in the Kineret. Some days (especially in the summer) she will fill up the bath tub half way in order to minimize her water use.

The rainy season started early this year with the first Shofar blast on Rosh Hashanah. We had more rain in October than in any other October since they started keeping records in Israel. Over the last 5 days it has been raining a lot and hopefully it will continue.

With the amount of rain we have been having people are going to find themselves caught in the rain. Getting home wet and cold from a terenchal down pour or having things wet from an open window is unpleasant. Anytime someone has a complaint of discomfort they have due to the weather always includes a disclaimer that they are not saying we shouldn't have the rain. Plus people are generally happy watching the rain fall from the sky. We sure need it. Just another example of the connection of the people to the land.