When all else fails, be nice.
I have had an ongoing challenge (read: battle) with my local post office. We live in Jerusalem, just outside the Old City, just a short walk to the main post office on Jaffa Rd. It’s happened a few times that when a package arrives, I get a notice from my mailman that it must be picked up by me there.
Because we are living in a world of Covid, you must make an appointment to go. Thankfully, I am able to pass that fun task to my assistant, whose Hebrew is much better than mine, thank G-d. I try to get one of the first appointments of the day, which is around 8 am.
My conversational Hebrew is almost non-existent, but that does not stop me from getting up early and walking over to make this transaction happen. However, every time I go, there is a different system of retrieving parcels. I’m not kidding. Each time I return home with my parcel, I tell my husband that it’s changed again, but I think I have figured it out. The new system has someone inside when you enter, they put your phone number into a computer, and you get a letter and numbered ticket. Got it.
Now throw in a monkey wrench – I get a notice for a parcel, but now money is owed for customs. I gave my phone number to sign in, get my ticket number, and went to the second room where parcels are handled (which I learned the hard way the first time after waiting in the first room for a long time, until the second time when it was closed, and then the third time when it was open again), I presented my number when announced (in Hebrew – how do you say C303??). Then the clerk angrily points out that money is owed, and he doesn’t handle money. He speaks too quickly in Hebrew for me to understand and then takes me angrily to a clerk in the first room (that does not handle parcels, but apparently handles mail and money) to pay.
I pay, get my receipt and go back to the parcel clerk who annoyingly gives me my package. I go home and tell my husband the new system.
The next week I get another notice of a parcel with customs. I go back to the post office, give my phone number, and, again, get a ticket that indicates the parcel room. I wait my turn, and, again, he gets angry and tells me to go back to the first room to pay. I explain to him that my ticket sends me to him and not to any of the other clerks, so what am I to do when I come? He tries to speak English, but it’s worse than my Hebrew, but I see he understands more than he can speak.
I say, “Every time I come, they send me to you, and you angrily send me to the other room. I want to do it right. Can you please help me?”
He immediately softened, smiled, and said, next time, just come to him, and he will bring me to a clerk who will accept the money, and then he will give me my package.
“And you won’t be angry at me?”
His whole countenance changed. He smiled a soft Israeli smile and said, “No. Have a good day.”
And I did.