Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Mixed Messages

DISCLAIMER,  to avoid being accused of being judgemental:

I try to avoid global statements about a community of people, because I believe that while various nations have certain personality traits, at the end of the day we are responsible for our individual choices in action and behaviour.

So in this case of this posting, I am not talking about Israelis in general, or French people in general, but rather about the particularly confusing neighbors in my building.  Overall I do not regret my choice to live in Israel, or in this building.


Since I have moved into this building, most of the neighbors have assiduously avoided speaking to me; the message was clear from the beginning, IE "Mind your own business and we'll all get along."  However, one of the tenants made it her point to call me before I moved in, to demand that my movers not scratch the walls, because they had been recently painted.

Israelis may have the aggressive, in-your-face reputation, people who insist on their rights and get things done, but that seems to have bypassed the people who live in this building.

A few weeks ago, two of the older boys who live here hit the large front window with a soccer ball.  For several days, the window continued to become more and more unstable as the crack grew, and I would see neighbors walk by and mutter to themselves, "I wonder how that happened..."  Finally, after it was clear to me that if Raphaela touched it, it would most probably shatter and seriously damage my daughter, so I demanded that the building Co-op manager get it fixed asap.

Therein lies one of the major problems in this shared living arrangement:  the couple that heads the Co-op board are an elderly French couple who don't speak Hebrew, cannot negotiate the Israeli system even to make a phone call to get a repair man, and quite often neglect their duties out of fear of criticism from the neighbors.

In any case, one of the others in the building stayed home from his hi-tech job in order to arrange and assist the window repair people. He then spent several days bitching to anyone who would listen how he lost a day of work for the "good of the building."

As a side note, he has young children who might have G-d Forbid gotten injured as well.  And furthermore, the family whose children actually broke the window never claimed responsibility for their actions.

Starting last week, the building smelled like s**t, literally.  Either an animal had died, or someone had vomited, but the rank odor penetrated every corner of the building.  For one week, I asked the useless Co-op Board to rectify the situation, and what I gathered from the French and the broken Hebrew was that they didn't know from where the smell was coming, they had no intention of checking it out, and they would call the custodian who cleans the building but they don't have his number; he shows up as he pleases and works when he feels like it.

I mention here for the sake of your imagination that it has been almost 40 degrees Celsius outside here in Jerusalem, and nothing smells better than s**t that has been cooking.  (Hope you haven't eaten before you read this sentence...)

Finally, one neighbor said he spotted a pile of human excrement behind the elevator shaft, and knowing that this was important to me, I should be the one to clean it up or track down the custodian. Lik it was not important to anyone else who lives here and wants to keep their family healthy.

Never mind the essential question:  Who would turn a private residence into a public toilet?!

My point, via the long and winding road of narrative:  We Israelis live under the threat and fear of terrorism every moment of every day.  We Israelis pull together to defend our children and our country.  And yet there is a wave of laziness bordering on indifference when a situation arises which clearly needs immediate care, as long as it does not affect you personally.

It's the same attitude that allows Israeli to be extreme litterbugs, because someone else will pick up your garbage and the planet will magically heal itself for your children and grandchildren.  It's the same attitude that allows Israelis to go into extreme overdraft and debt, because your children and grandchildren will have to pay it off when you are dead. It's the same attitude that says that smoking is still cool, that it is their right to pollute their bodies and the air, and it is your children's right to breathe in second hand smoke.

(So much for not generalizing about an entire nation.)

Why do I have to be that person who will take up the cause and follow through the necessary steps when no one else cares or no one else bothers.  I can't change the essential personality, that passionate and committed woman, but man, do I feel tired.


Midlife Singlemum said...

living in a building that also has big building committee problems, I have been urging the current 'chairman' to hand the whole thing over to a management company. It would cost us all a bit more but at least things would get done. And people who who don't pay on time (or at all) would be issued with lawyers letters, etc...

Nicole said...

I was going to suggest something similar - if you don't like the way the building is being run, get on the committee and do it yourself. Chances are that the couple that are currently running the committee are doing it because no-one else wants to.
The other option is to find a GOOD management company, and let them deal with everything, but that will probably cost you more.

Commenter Abbi said...

Looks like since you're the one who cares the most, you'll have to be the one to take the reins. Management company sounds like an excellent idea. Google vaad bayit in Hebrew and there are lots of resources.

Sarah said...

The guy who stayed home and whined about it -- he DID stay home -- so perhaps the two of you could work on improving things.

Doc said...

Problem is that I have offered to help and they don't seem to be interested in changing the status quo.

Sarah said...

Since you are a renter you probably don't have a say unless your landlord backs you up in wanting the other owners to elect a new vaad bayit.

Amy Charles said...

"if you don't like the way the building is being run, get on the committee and do it yourself."

Uh...she's the solo mother of a preschooler with little or no local family support. I'm thinking this is likely unrealistic advice.