These days I sometimes forget I’m “living abroad”. I made the move back to HLC (Holy Land Central) three years ago making it pretty much impossible to retain the heightened awareness of small nuances and cold water douses to the face marking differences between here and there anymore.
I still do, however, get the odd jolt on occasion.
Like last week when my electric bill arrived. It was $300 or triple the usual amount. Granted, it covered the tail end of hot season here – the end of August and September when air-con use is at a premium – but I scratched my head in earnest pondering how the figure could possibly be correct.
So I phoned up the electric company. And the rep advised:
Go out in the hallway and look at your electric meter. Read me the numbers.
So I did. And she responded with: Yeah, the bill you got is incorrect. We didn’t read the meters this time around. We estimated the amount based on average annual use. Throw that bill away and we’ll send you the revised one based on the figure you gave me.
“What would have happened had I paid the guestimated bill?” I inquired, restraining my incredulity.
We’d have eventually sent you the difference – once we did a meter reading.
Gee, call me skeptical but. . .
And on a totally different, marking the differences between here and there track, I was on the boulevard near our house last week attending an outdoor street fair for kids with my 7-year-old.
It was great. There was a sand pit “archaeological dig” with planted coin relics for kids to unearth, a dark treasure cave for navigating with glow sticks and a treasure chest hunt with pirates and live parrots.
Will you be sitting here for 5 minutes?
I didn’t answer. I was sort of waiting, New York or Tel Aviv style, for her motive.
Can you watch my purse? It’s getting in the way and I want to help my son.. .the woman continued, promptly plopping her leather bag beside me and traipsing off to the dig pit.
I sized up the woman, internally confirming that she was indeed accompanying a minor and not an incognito terrorist handing me a ticking time bomb intended for doing away with a few dozen archaeologically inclined Israelis on a Friday afternoon.
And then I did that thing in my head that I assume most people would do. Geeyad, lady. I could walk away with your house and car keys and your cash and credit cards. Not to mention a nice leather purse. You don’t even know me!!
But I didn’t.
Definitely, 100% without hesitation, fully guaranteed I can say that type of thing has NEVER happened to me in the U.S.
And it never will.