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.
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