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Dec 4, 2008

Two looks at the typical Israeli

Yesterday I had two opportunities to see the stereotypical Israeli.

I first had the opportunity to spend some time in a couple of "Musachim" - car mechanics' garages. Then I had Parent-Teacher conferences at night for my boys' school.

Each opportunity provided a view of a different aspect of the stereotypical Israeli.

At the mechanics place I am getting my car taken care of. The owner is a guy who just kind of wanders around watching what is going on, supervising his employees, passes a few words with the customers, etc.
Suddenly, in comes a customer with a complaint. Perhaps you can call it an accusation. "The piece you sold me last month is defective - This is the second time since then that it has broken down."

So, somebody might respond "let's check the problem and see what is wrong with it". Or perhaps, "I'll replace it for you at cost, or for free", or "you broke it by misusing it", or a dozen other responses.

The owner of the "musach" suddenly turns into a lion, as if he sees his whole business being threatened with closure by this one accusation. He starts screaming louder than anything I have heard in a long time. He says the guy is a liar. He tells his employee to put back the old piece and let him go somewhere else. He screams you bought junk , so you got junk - you wanted a cheap part, so cheap parts do not last. And more. Just screaming and screaming. The part is not defective, it is the way you used it.

I am not taking sides. I do not know who is right and who is wrong.

Suddenly, his screaming kind of scares the customer a bit, and they go through a process of checking the part. The process is really one where the "musachnik" can "prove" that it is the guys fault and not his, because nobody really knows anything about car parts, and these "musachniks"can point at every dent, bump or even a totally innocuous looking smooth part, and say "that is what caused it! We found the problem!"

I did not stay for the end of the story, as I had to go, but when I left, the "musachnik" was proving his case, the customer was walking around muttering "what can I do, fine, he is right", and it looked like peace was coming back to the garage.

At the Parent - Teachers conference, they sent home notes warning parents that these meetings are not for long discussions. Parents should spend no more than 5 minutes by each rebbe, as there are a lot of parents waiting. If a parent has more issues to discuss that require a lot of tie, they should call the rebbe, make appointments to see him at other times, etc.

The problem generally is there is not much time allotted, and there are always a few parents who sit for 15 minutes talking, which backs up the whole line. The rebbe ends up having to stay very late. The parents get upset because they are delayed. And nobody, except the parent who sat for 15 minutes, ends up happy.

So this time, the school sent home a few notes in the preceding days to please make sure not to sit more than 5 minutes with the rebbes.

Sure enough - what happens" The conference is scheduled to start at 7:00. Not a single rebbe came before 7:10, and some came as late as 7:25.

So all the parents who had signed up on the appointment sheets" for the slots from 7:00-7:30, are already, before anybody even sat down, delayed, and the conference will then be backed up, forcing the rebbes to stay late, and the parents to be upset.

Then of course, at least by the classrooms I was waiting for, the first parent sat for almost 15 minutes backing everything up even more.


  1. I always get annoyed when parents overstay their turn. Your school had a good idea (I've been saying this for years), too bad they didn't stick to it. Lately the situation seems to have improved.

  2. orientation at my kids school was horrible for a few reasons, including because it started late and one kids' parents hogged the teacher for 20 minutes.

    last week was parent-teachers conference. the same damn parents hogged the teacher again for 20 minutes.

    it's such hutzpah. like you write, if you need more time make an appointment or ask for a phone call.

  3. Another pet hate is at the doctor's when your appointment is already 10 minutes late and someone says they just need to 'pop in' to the doctor, 'just for a minute' to get something.... and then sits there for 10 minutes.
    I just want to punch that person when they come out!

  4. You're right about parent-teacher interviews, I remember last year when my daughter's class parent interviews anded up being 2 hours late, people who were supposed to see the teacher at 9 didn't see her until after 11:00 !!!

    As to the Musach story, I love my Musach - particularly seeing his non-Jewish (Arab) employees with their TShirts clearly saying "BS"D - Musach Gil"
    Why he needs "B'sitaya D'Shmaya" printed on the T-Shirts is beyond me, but it's probably good for business as Kiryat Sefer is just up the road.

    He also has a few sforim next to the cofee machine in case you have to wait for service.
    Even found a nice vort in one of the books in his waiting area, I blogged about it here:

  5. arie crown has been getting tougher on sticking to the alloted 5 minutes, but there will always be selfish parents who just don't care. My feeling about these conferences is that they really are a waste of time. We keep in contact with our teachers and expect to know in advance if there's a problem. waiting for conferences is waiting too late and there isn't enough time to discuss it anyway. The parents who are already not involved in their kids lives, don't treat conferences with respect either. They either come late regularly or not at all. les has it with her students parents the same issues. The one parent who needed to be at conferences b/c they don't do much during the year, didn't sign up or show.

  6. What I don't get is, if all the school will "allow" is 5 minutes of face time between parents and teachers, why bother making the parents come in at all? Either do the whole thing by telephone, or spread it out over a few days (or weeks), thereby allowing a reasonable amount of time for each parent to actually meet and be able to talk to each teacher. In my elementary school in the US, parent teacher conferences were done in periods of no less than three days, and that was a school with only 200 kids.

  7. Yechiel
    These parents meetings are for checking in with the teacher that everything is basically ok. If you need more than 5 minutes, then there is an issue that needs to be addressed and you need to set up a proper meeting with the school staff. The parents evening is not the place to sort out serious issues.

  8. When I read the title of this post, I was COMPLETELY expecting something else.
    The first story with a "sweet" ending, perhaps.
    Like how the bus driver yelled at my mother for mixing up directions and when he calmed down, got a fellow driver to drive her personally to her stop.

    What you wrote about is not "stereotypical Israeli". True you've lived in Israel longer than I have but..

  9. well, not stereotypical Israeli ni that sense, like the people who tell yout oc over your babies head outside or like the story I wrote about a while back of my car getting towed, but this is another aspect of "Israelism"

  10. I guess..though the pta one is really more of a 'jewish' one, i'd say....


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