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:

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Zero hour

In my never-ending quest for Internet access that actually provides me access to the Internet (shocking demand! shocking!), I had the privilege today of overhearing a conversation between the Netvision guy and the Hot chick that revealed a certain confusion on the part of said chick regarding the difference between Hebrew and English and did not do much to raise my estimation of her company as a whole.

Netvision guy Anan, the first Israeli I have encountered who bears the Hebrew version of the flower child/American Indian-sounding name Cloud, took me patiently through a whole lotta steps to figure out what the problem was and concluded that the router was faulty and needed to be replaced. Then he called back and said he needed to make sure it wasn't the modem after all, which entailed a conference call with Hot.

When he finally got the brains of tech support on the phone, he asked her to do an "ipus" (איפוס - pronounced ee-pooss) of the modem. Since she showed little indication of understanding what he meant, he changed the form of the word to ask her "le'apes" (לאפס - to reset) it. Both words come from אפס (effes), the Hebrew for zero. (Morfix translates לאפס as: to calibrate, to zero, to set on zero; to reset.)

The Hot representative clearly had no clue what the hell Cloud was on about (maybe she couldn't check the dictionary because she couldn't get online either?), so she insisted that whatever he was asking was impossible and attempted to make it clear that she knew just what she was doing. She did this by adopting that tone of righteous indignation, replete with a declaration of her experience in the field, that I can recognize from a mile away as a clear sign that the person doesn't have the slightest idea of what to do and, more dangerous still, will never, ever admit it.

"I didn't just start working here yesterday, and I can tell you that there is no such thing," Hot insisted. After a bit of back and forth along these lines, she finally figured out that Anan - whose name, despite its airy-fairyness, puts me in mind of a good cuppa joe, thanks to a certain unnamed world body - wanted her to reset the modem.

"Oh, la'asot [to do] reeeeset!" she said. And then, I kid you not, she went on to ask: "Why don't you speak in Hebrew?"

Anan sounded as taken aback as I was. "Ipus is Hebrew," he informed her. "Reset is English."

Not surprisingly, given the admirable personality traits she had already demonstrated, Ms. Hot blithely continued as though Anan had not pointed out what a total lamebrain she was, and finally accomplished the task.

Conclusion: It turns out that both the router and the Hot representative are faulty.

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