I would prefer not to use this forum as a way to gripe. Because I’m really very happy here and have been exceptionally lucky with the lack of bureaucratic or scheduling snafus up until today. And, as is the habit of my life for everything to happen simultaneously, today was my day. May I just briefly outline what it is like to try to get into a new apartment when you speak only a few words of Hebrew? Thank you. I shall be brief:
1. CABLE/INTERNET: Your choices of cable are either YES or HOT. I stupidly chose HOT. I thought it would be funny to be able to say that I was waiting for the “Hot Cable Guy.” Joke’s on me. HOT ain’t so hot. Yesterday’s appointment was a bust (no infrastructure in the building they said). Today I waited 4 hours only to be told that the building WAS wired, but for YES (satellite), not HOT (cable). I’d have to wait another 2 weeks while they wired the entire building. I don’t think so. I downgraded HOT to COLD and cancelled my order with them. I think I did it right. But I think I forgot to cancel the Internet, which is a separate company from the Cable (called “HOT INTERNET”). I shall see.
Next, called YES. They were thrilled that I dropped HOT. But couldn’t help me because there still is no street number given to the building that I’ll be moving in to. Well, I said boldly, that shouldn’t be a problem because there are 4 other families living in the building and I’ve been told that they are all with YES. Not to mention that HOT had no trouble sending anyone to my apartment. Twice. The answer? I should go knock on my neighbors’ doors and ask for their telephone numbers and YES account numbers. Yup. Right there in the Israeli version of How To Make Friends and Influence People. Sure beats baking brownies. I don’t think so.
I’ll call again tomorrow. Maybe I should forget about YES and HOT and look for MAYBE. That seems more my speed.
2. ELECTRICITY: “Heshmole.” Noun. Something that you are promised by your landlord, but whose promise is as invisible as the electricity. Equally invisible in English or in Hebrew.
You need something called a Tofes Arbah (Form 4) to get electricity into a building, allowing the electricity to come in legally. We’re still waiting for it. Did I mention that there were 4 families already living there? From whence does their Heshmole come? you might ask. Don’t ask. Don’t tell. Seriously.
3. AIR CONDITIONING: Noun. Something you absolutely must have in order to survive an afternoon of 43′ C (114′ F) weather. Note: Without Heshmole there is no Air Conditioning, unless you consider sticking your head in the freezer for relief an acceptable substitute. (c.f. #2 and lack therefore). Hmmm. That would mean another trip to Aroma coffee shop for a 17-shekel frozen iced coffee as the only viable alternative. No wonder they are making money hand over fist.
4. CLEANING WOMAN. I can’t even ascribe the term “noun” to this. Not sure how you define someone who takes 4 hours to clean 4 windows, using the same dirty water on all of them, managing to take them out of the window sill (and leaving you to go home without telling you she didn’t know how to put them back in), wiping down a counter (same dirty rag), and not being able to wash the floor because there wasn’t enough time. Truly. My apartment is not that big.
5. WATER: “Mayim.” Noun. Something Israel doesn’t have a lot of, however, there is enough so that you don’t wash windows with water so dirty that you can’t see through it. HOT WATER is another entry, but I can’t go into that since I don’t have Heshmole and I’ve been told by the Air Conditioning guys that if I turn on the switch that heats the water, the Hot Water Heater will explode. Hmmm. Tempting prospect. Of course, I could rely on the solar-heated water. But you need nine families in the building before it works (how does the sun know how many people are living at the corner of Gilboa and Begin?????). And of course, you need piping in the kitchen sink to be connected to allow for the mayim to travel forth freely with great cold gusto! That won’t happen in my kitchen or in my shower (lack of shower knob) for some time. I won’t hold my breath. There’s no hot water where I’ve been living the past few weeks anyway, but it’s so hot that a cold shower actually feels rather refreshing!
. . . and finally
6. ELECTRICAL PLUG PLACEMENT. Again, no part of speech can quite define this. Obviously, it is counter-intuitive to think that an electrical outlet should be placed within proximity to the electrical appliance. Case in point: My oven and cook top (two separate items). Only one outlet. Not even directly underneath where the cook top should be—it is on the wall (a “10” for effort), but is on the other side of the wall that separates the lower cabinets. Which means, they’ll have to drill a hole through the cabinets to plug things in. Which we’re not in any hurry to do, nor can we do if the worker has an electric drill because . . . all together now. . . :
We don’t have any HESHMOLE.
Did I mention that I can’t call my landlord because his cell phone broke and it will take 3 days to get it fixed? I can’t wait to see what tomorrow will bring.
No. Scratch that. I’d rather wait.