Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Bureaucracy, Integrals & a Mysterious Couch

Last week was a somewhat frustrating week. Bureaucracy, integrals and a mysterious couch all converged into one big irritation. There's only one thing to do in situations such as these. I called my dad and ranted for about 20 minutes about “the system,” Boris my math professor, and my penniless existence. Not that being broke is new for me; it's just my go-to rant. It's a subject that never gets old.
Applying to college is a frustrating experience in any country. But when all of your records and documents are across the ocean, and the country in which you're trying to apply to college is Israel, you'd better have a strong stomach because you're going to be running around in circles; perhaps even figure eights.
I seem to have applied successfully to Hebrew University. That being after two failed attempts and an angry adviser. And let me tell you, Russian women are scary when they're angry. If you encounter an angry Russian woman, word of advice: curl up into a ball and play dead.
What's left is my application to Michlelet Hadassah. The only thing that they need is verification from the Education Ministry that I have a high school diploma from outside the country. What does this mean exactly? I have no idea. I go to their website, no useful information, no phone number, nothing. Only one of those 'if you'd like to get into contact with us' type boxes with a send button. No one ever answers those things. I'm pretty sure pressing the send button is like pressing the garbage disposal button in your sink or the on button of your paper shredder. So I was not very hopeful that I would get a reply. But in fact, two days later an email arrived with a name and a phone number to call. It was 12:02 when I called. I got an automated answer saying that a) the office is open from 8:30-12:00 and that b) they don't have office visiting hours. Fantastic. I tried again the next day at 10:00. No answer. I tried a few minutes later. No answer. I tried at 11:00. Still no answer. Great. I called them up again the next day. Still no answer. At this point I gave up. I have only so much patience for ghost offices which exist in theory but in practice have neither an address nor actual human staff.
On to my next frustration. Actually I probably don't have to explain why derivatives and integrals would be frustrating. Moving on.
Every time I open the front door it hits the mysterious couch that appeared there and rebounds off it hitting me in the face. Basically, my roommate had an engagement party a few Thursday nights ago (he got engaged a few months ago and is probably moving out at the end of June). I got home from work a bit after midnight and there were ridiculous amounts of food and alcohol lying around (it seems it's not a Polish party without lots of alcohol). There were people passed out on the couch (including my roommate) and there was a mysterious couch where there had never been one before. It's still here. I want it to go away. Everyone was pretty much gone by about 1:00 though so I was able to go to sleep. I went to the bathroom in the morning and there were bottles of alcohol floating in the bathtub. I was puzzled as to what there were doing there (Taking a bath? Drowning? Should I save them? Give them rubber duckies?). I came out and said hi to a guy standing outside the door. It took me a second to realize that he doesn't live here and that I don't actually know who he is. I decided to ignore it and go back to my room.
As for how it's going at the restaurant, same old same old. And by that I mean that strange and frustrating people keep coming in. I did however learn something new about Australian culture. I was serving an Australian couple and the woman asked for either a soda or sparkling water. She told me to surprise her and bring her whichever. So I brought her a Coke. She looks at me like she's a bit uncomfortable and says, “Sorry, I asked for soda.” I look at the Coke, I look at her, then back at the Coke. I go, “Ok, when you say soda, what exactly do you mean?” It turns out that in Australia, soda means carbonated water. I'm like, “Ok, then what's sparkling water?” Apparently there are places on this earth where the streams run with naturally bubbling water. Sometimes I really feel like an uncultured and uneducated Yankee.
Unfortunately the next guy who walked in did not do much for our cause. He asked for an appetizer that was spicy so I told him that the chicken wings were good. He then asked me what a chicken wing is. How do you answer a self apparent question? I didn't know what to say without giving him an anatomy lesson on chickens. I just kind of stuttered, “It's the wing of a chicken” while unconsciously flapping my arms. He goes “Oh, is it that round thing?” I'm like, what? Just... what?

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