Thursday, December 9, 2010

Don't tell ME you can't get good service in Israel!

Yom shishi, 3 Tevet 5771.

First of all, I want to apologize to you.  It's not your fault.  Since you read this blog -- thank you! -- you are probably not one of the people I'm speaking about when I say that it gets on my nerves when people tell me that Israelis don't give good service.

Secondly, I want to stress that an increase in American-style service would be warmly received by me and just about everyone I know.

That said, let me share a lovely story.

The Dearly Beloved accompanied me to a particular location in Jerusalem to get information about renting office space for a friend who was under the mistaken impression that I knew something about the subject, or that I had enough Hebrew at my command to do this task for her.  (But -- hey!  When your friend asks you to help her get information in your country, do you say no?  No.  You say "sure" -- and hope you can figure it out with your handy dictionary.)

When we arrived at the lovely office complex, I surveyed the massive sign to see if there would be a hint about where we might find the rental office.  Clueless, my eyes were drawn, like metal filings to a magnet, to the only words in English on the board:
I turned to the Dearly Beloved.  "I know.  Let's go to them.  They'll have the answer."  He hastened to remind me that helping me find my way around their building was not in their mission statement.  But he also pointed out that this was my project; and if a wild goose chase would be a good place for me to loosen up my question-asking muscles, it would at least entertain him.

We entered the office, and were met by an enthusiastic and delightful young Israeli named Sigi.  I asked Sigi -- in Hebrew -- if it would be okay to speak to her in English.  She answered me -- in Hebrew -- that it would be.  This is a psychological tactic I use on myself.  If the Israeli will give me room to speak English, I have the courage to try to speak in Hebrew (until they give up on me).  So I asked much of my question in Hebrew.  Flawed though it was, Sigi was happy with my efforts, and cheerfully offered to give us first something to drink, followed by a present, and then the answer to our question.

We followed her through the suite of offices, through a gym I would happily work-out in, to help me come up with answers, if I worked there, through a small kitchenette.  We met various cheerful employees along the way, busy with thinking up wisdom.  When we arrived at her destination, Sigi set us up with the cold water we had requested -- I suspect she would have served us hafuch, if we'd asked, or even lunch -- and bustled off to another room.  Shortly she returned with tee-shirts.

Now, I don't know how Sigi sized us up so quickly.  If you give anyone in Chez Mizrachi a tee shirt with a cool logo, we will act almost as happy as if you gave us a car and a steak dinner.  Sigi chatted to us pleasantly, alternating between Hebrew and excellent English.  Then she took us back out to the front desk and gave us the phone number and directions to the office we were seeking.  Following this, she walked us out to the elevators, making sure that we were clear on the directions, before wishing us a Chag Chanukah Sameach.

In case anyone in business wonders if that "little extra" really matters -- Sigi is one of my favorite new words, guaranteed to bring a smile to my face; and has become my "Q&A Website" of choice.  (It doesn't bother me at all that a nice Jewish boy started the Jerusalem- and New York-based company.)  Today, they helped me to fix a problem with my computer, told me where in the world is Ibadan, and helped me to figure out how to make a perfect Crepes Suzette.  Who would have known I needed that information, before Sigi treated us with such courtesy and business acumen?  (At this point, don't even think about asking me.  You know where to look it up...)

Israel, you have some very nice people as residents, and some companies that should make you proud.  Thank you.


Marc said...

Taught you... how to.. make a perfect(!) Crepes Suzette?


penina said...

What a wonderful story - after a day in Jerusalem in which I was told that there was nothing to be done about the terrible sandwhich, or the wifi being out at a cafe I chose specifically for the wifi, after being trampled on trying to get on a bus and cut in front of while going through security, after being told that something I have PURCHASED before doesn't exist and being charged for four days of rental of an item I used for four hours, its so nice to hear that there really are some amazing people here.

Julie Waldman said...

I took my son Ezra into work with me on Wed. He's 8. I had several work related errands to run first and he patiently came with me to each. After each stop he said, people in Jerusalem are soooo nice. Then we got to my office, and he repeated, wow people in Jerusalem are sooo nice. So there you have it :) People in Jerusalem are just nice!

Shalomis said...

While you're at it, if you haven't already, be sure to let them know that you gave them this wonderful review/plug on your blog. Thanks for sharing!

rutimizrachi said...

Marc: Rarely have I gotten such a good laugh from a few ellipses and asterisks. Okay, it was a little poetic license. YOU teach me how to make a perfect CS, 'kay?

Penina: Ouch. Sorry about your lousy day! I guess the point is that I had equally frustrating experiences in America -- so the idea that somehow things are worse in Israel rankles. Some individuals (anywhere in the world) give terrible service; and some individuals give great service. I'm tired of my country getting a bad rap. Hopefully, sharing some of the positive experiences will even the score a bit. (And I give you a bracha for more "Sigi experiences.")

Julie: Sounds like there was one very nice 8-year-old in Jerusalem that day, too!

Shalomis: It's nice to have a marketing expert in the family. ;-)

Liz said...


You can rest assured that we take GREAT care of Sigi at Of course, it could never compare to the care she takes of us!

It's so awesome to hear you had a wonderful experience at the office and on the site.

Thanks for posting about us!

Exiled Warrior said...

Great story eema. The T-shirt will be work at work on the kibbutz. I figure it will be good advertising. Also, thank you for putting this post up. It is so important that people realize and hear this type of stuff. Many people stay in Galut with the excuse that they don't want their kids growing up in such a rude and pushy society. So thank you for once again showing Israel in it's true light.

p.s. Hey Americans, when you move here bring your manners, Israel could certainly use a boost in the "please" and "thank you" department!

penina said...

I think that the problem is WHERE we experience the difficulties. There are many aspects about Israel that really can be considered worse (the whole bus/line thing is driving me crazy!) BUT - there are many more areas where Israelis beat Americans hands down. In general I find Israelis more honest, more caring and more helpful on a one-on-one level.

Taxi drivers don't need bullet-proof glass between them and their passengers...I've seen a bus driver put the bus in park to help an elderly lady off the bus...I've seen a teenager run after someone to return their dropped wallet...I could go on and on (as can most of the people here),

Its just different. Different is okay - it doesn't have to be better or can be just...different.

westbankmama said...

Ruti - please remember to send this post to me in a few months when I do another version of "Israel Pride" week!