the 90th minute

Until September 2007, when my oldest daughter was born, this blog covered daily life and politics in Israel, as well as Hebrew-English linguistic issues, from the perspective of an American-raised journalist and translator living in Israel. Now it mostly serves as the SmunchMonk&Bear news agency, a portal into the bizarre universe of the little people. Read more at:

Monday, April 16, 2007

What a gas!

I discovered today that my landlord has a sense of humor.

It started with my phone call to the evil spawn of the devil, the banchee Oshra, who works for what I have decided is one of the worst companies in Israel (and that's saying a lot): the Dorgas gas company.

The reason I called? Let's see if you can work it out:

Our current gas bill comes to a grand total of NIS 1,660.35 - which is a whopping NIS 1,590 more than our previous three gas bills COMBINED! The bill before the current bloated one came to NIS 17.05, the one before that to NIS 32.02 (no, there are no coins in Israel that amount to less than 5 agorot, so this is actually an impossible number to pay, but that's a whole other story), and the one before that to NIS 21.22.

And no, we did not use gas for heating or for any purpose other than what we've used it for in the three previous billing periods (minimal stovetop cooking).

Now, I'm no mathematical genius, but for some reason I get the feeling that something's rotten in the state of Dorgas - which, by the way, has already shut off our gas twice in the last few months for no reason that the company could explain. Well, actually, the meter-reading guy did give me what I suppose is their version of an explanation for the first gas cutoff: He rang the door of someone else's apartment and they didn't answer him, so he cut off our gas.

And you just know he's gotta be telling the truth because who could possibly make up such a ridiculously irrelevant answer? I would have been happier (and not even particularly surprised) if he had said a street cat ate the meter.

Anyway, despite the gas company's less-than-stellar record when it comes to minor details like providing gas, I began my call by speaking very nicely to the evil spawn of the devil (as I did not yet know her true status). The lovely and soft-spoken Oshra heavily implied that her company plucked a random number out of the air to put on my bill because the cabinet containing the gas meters was apparently locked. When I told her that I didn't have the key and the company should speak to my landlord - to whom the gas bill is addressed, by the way! - she said, 'Well if you won't help me, then I won't help you,' and threatened to shut off my gas, which is apparently the standard practice when Oshra is in a bad mood.

(It turns out that actually the gas meter for our apartment, as opposed to the ones for most of the other ones in the building, is outside the building in a non-locked cabinet. But, not being ready to face another bout with Oshra, I have handed the entire matter over to my lawyer, who also doubles as my husband.)

Anyway, when I ran into my landlord in my building today - after having spoken to him earlier about the gas meter being locked away (or not, as the case may be) - he asked if the gas company was still giving me trouble. I told him about my hushed and civilized conversation with Oshra, and he surprised me by displaying the above-mentioned, heretofore hidden, sense of humor.

Totally straight-faced, he said: "What do you mean? No one shouts in this country!" -
מה פתאום? במדינה הזאת לא צועקים

Funny man, my landlord. Who knew?

Crossposted to Israelity.


Blogger Akiva said...

OMG, I fell off my chair and woke up my wife laughing! Yep, that's the Israel I know!

April 18, 2007  

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