The 11th Floor

A Perpsective Overlooking Jerusalem, Israeli Life, and Talmud Torah

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Don't worry, Mr. President, Arafat just grabbed my tallis bag

Comments are now open to everyone! Please blog with us! And now, from the 11th floor, its

THE VOICE OF MRS. HELL

"Do you have something for apartment §£?" I ask the red-faced man with the big envelope under his arm. He's wearing a bright red shirt, and has just pulled up in his red Israel Mail mini-truck, bluetooth in one ear, a US Priority mail envelope in tow. "No!" he says, a reply in a tone as if I asked him if he would like throat cancer. I have been sitting at the doorway to our building for about 70 minutes, waiting for the Israeli equivalent of UPS to show up and give us the one box we decided to ship, a box with sefarim (religous texts), classic novels, and some essential DVDs.

A couple we are freinds with shipped this box to us two weeks ago, and we have been waiting, patiently, for it to arrive. First there was a slip with a package number. That was taken to the nearest post office, which naturally informed my beloved spouse that our package was actually at a different post office, which was located "near the theatre." Since there is nothing near the theatre but houses, we were skeptical.

So when a new slip arrived with a number to call, we were delighted. So, my dear wife calls, gets an english speaker on the line. She gives our name, which the mail agent repeats happily, and accepts. And they set up a time for delivery. Sadly, our intercom buzzer does not work- so we can buzz in, but can't be rung up from the doorway. So down I go to await the package messenger. This brings us back to the man in the red shirt with the red face, who has rung up an intercom number that works- so I know that its not ours.

(translated from the Hebrew)
"Hell?" I hear him ask?
"WHO IS THIS?" yells out an a voice.
"I'm from the Post [office], is this Geveret (Mrs) Hell?"
"I CAN't Hear YOU!" comes the reply from the intercom.
"HELL, " he shouts into the intercom microphone. "ADINA HELL- I have a package from abroad for you."
"I Don't know who you are." Click! She has hung up.
He rings again. "I Am from the POST!" He shouts. "Is this HELL?" I am, of course, thinking, yes, yes it is.
The lady's voice is now getting testy. "What do you want? SPEAK UP!"
"I have a package for HELL- can you hear me?"
"Yes, but I'm not going to let you in if I don't know who you are."
Click! The lady has hung up.

"Mrs. Hell?" he calls up again, "Can you hear me?"
"WHAT IS THIS ABOUT?
The mail guy now looks like he is about to explode- but he takes a breath, and like a man who has undergone serious anger managament, lowers his voice, brings his face to the microphone, and in a calm and patient voice, forces a smile and says "Geveret (meaning Mrs., or in this case, Ma'am), please. A moment. I have a package for you. Can you hear me?"
"I don't know who this is, but I am not letting someone up if I don't know who they are!"
Click.

That is enough for any man to take, the mail guy included. With a few choice words that I would love to learn (e.g. for when passed by a bus I have been waiting for), he storms away, and in a moment he is driving out of the parking lot at a speed that even Israelis would find excessive.

I wait for another hour. No other mail guys show up. Annoyed, I look for the contact number for the delivery service on the slip. It's on the front, along with the package number. As I wait for an english operator, I look over the slip in detail (this is the first time I have done so). And there, under the pacakge number is an illegible squiggle of Hebrew script that I suddenly can decipher. "Hell, Adina, " the squiggle now cleary reads (Hel is an arabic word for cardomon) . I look at the rows of mailboxes, which open to the outside. Mrs's Hell's mailbox is the one directly above ours.

Hell is other people- and the Israeli postal system.

Photo- an Israeli elevator. Here, ground floors are "0" and basements are "-1".

3 Comments:

Anonymous Louis said...

Think about how much fun it will be sending things home from Israel. ....

7:27 PM  
Anonymous Jeremy said...

It's good to finally know where the U.S. Postal Service farm system is located.

I'm just imagining you waiting and waiting in that lobby. It could be part of a new tourism campaign. The poster would be you waiting patiently, sitting on the floor or your lobby. The legend would read:

"The Zen of Israel: Because There's No Other Choice"

As long as you're in Israel, I should bring in one of your works of art which may relate to your current experience there.

Many may not know of your artistic prowess, but here's an example, which was on my fridge for many years in Skokie, and continues in the same tradition on the Horowitz family fridge in Los Angeles.

Every time I look at it, I think it's a great statement, superbly rendered.

Kol Tuv,

Jeremy

3:47 AM  
Blogger Lost said...

Oh my lord. That was was best laugh out loud post I've read in a while. The Post Office in the States isn't much better, if misery likes company~!

7:36 AM  

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