Thursday, May 25, 2006

I love it here and I don't know why

I just got reminded of the torture the bureaucracy here inflicts on all of us this morning when a co-worker told me she got a letter from the National Insurance Institute telling her that they're gonna take all her stuff if she doesn't pay them thousands of shekels. For what? She found out the hard way, that when you are Israeli and you leave Israel - even for a few years - you still must pay into the health care system. If you don't, the minute they find out you're back for good - they hit you with an exorbitant sum. She made the mistake of walking into their offices to ask for help because she was unemployed and wanted to know what benefits she can get. Unemployment and health insurance are both in the same package deal so they checked her out and sent her an enormous bill instead of giving her unemployment benefits or welfare.

I laughed inappropriately when she told me the story. We already had all our stuff taken once so there's nothing more for them to take except an old shitty TV that needs a color tube, torn couches and ripped and dog-eaten dining room chairs and a 20 year old dining room table that has graffiti on it from all my kids. If they want to be really cruel, they can take an old computer and our washing machine so we can walk around in dusty, filthy clothes and blame the way we look and smell on the government.

I told her she'd better make some kind of arrangement with them - she could cut the bill down in half or better. She just has to go to the free citizen's service and have them help her do this.

And then you have the banks' decision to suddenly become "just like the US banks" which bounce your checks once you've hit your overdraft limit. Israeli banks used to let most of them through, even above your overdraft limit, which they encouraged you to have because they make oodles of money form us. However, after you've bounced 10 checks, you're punished for a year and your bank account is closed. But they've been kind to me and just bounced my standing orders this month (cable tv, cellphone, health fund) and only one check. They used to put all this through and are doing this so that I get used to living the way I did a decade ago in the US and Canada. And this, just after I got used to living in Israeli-style overdraft.

My kids went out last night for a free concert for Jerusalem Day celebrations. Surprisingly, I am very happy with our Ultra-Orthodox mayor Uri Lupolianski. People were nervous that all the cultural events would go on the brink with him at the helm, but they haven't. In fact, I think there are more of them now. We have free or cheap concerts here up the wazoo, including lots of fireworks displays.

And the heat wave is back for the 2nd day today. It'll be close to 100 degrees. I put on the coolest, breeziest thing I had and wondered if the aluminum-free natural deodorant was the way to go.

1 comment:

Riihele said...

Hei Gypsy. I'm the one from the far nothern country that keeps popping into your blog for a lookie. This time I thought that it'd be polite to finally let you know that tis moi. Great posting.