Monday, July 25, 2011


Now that I knew I had to find a job, I took to the job postings with renewed vigor. By this I mean I was desperate and decided to respond to a post advertising for a bagel shop. The ad had been run a few times in the past so I figured maybe they were as desperate as me. The ad went something like this: For a kosher bagel shop in Jerusalem. Mostly English speaking clientele. Great atmosphere, good salary!
They had me at good salary. Now I'm not foolish, I know that “good salary” is relative. However at this point anything over minimum wage is acceptable. My last paycheck from the restaurant averaged out to about 19 shekels an hour after taxes. Minimum wage is a little over 21 shekels an hour and I figure “good” salary is between 24 and 26 shekels an hour for a food related business.
I called the phone number at the bottom and no one answered so I shrugged and was about to go back about my business. Within about 30 seconds, someone called me back. After the usual “who is this?” “You just called me, who is this?” Q&A, I told him I was interested in the job posting. He asked me some questions, I answered them in my best I-swear-I'm-not-an-escaped-lunatic voice, and he invited me to come check out the shop and talk to him and the other employees. It sounded good so I agreed. Then he said to me, “I just need to ask, do you have any facial piercings?” I told him I had a nose ring (which it seems are as common in Israel as Starbucks ™ are in NY) and I could hear him hesitate. He told me that because his clientele was pretty religious he didn't want anyone who looked like he just came off the street. I was like, “ooooook.” I didn't know what to say if he equated nose rings with homeless punks. He added, “From what you've told me about yourself, it doesn't sound like you would compromise on that.” I said, “not really.” At this point I didn't really want to get mixed up in any more of this religious insanity, so we said our goodbyes and good lucks and I was once more ready to go back about my business. A few minutes later, I get a call back from him. He had thought about it a bit more and decided that he would still like to meet me. The job entailed wearing a skirt but he didn't care what kind and they would provide me with a uniform shirt every day. I figured, whatever, can't hurt and went down there a few hours later. It seemed like a nice place- clean, nice staff, good food and... a coffee machine. One of my goals in life is to learn how to make cappuccino. It's always seemed like this magical procedure- a whir of motion, a loud mechanical humming noise followed by the sound of frothing and then... voila- cafe hafuch with shapes made in the milk. Incredible. How do they make the hearts on top?
I asked for the guy I'd spoken to on the phone and they said he'd be back shortly. So I parked myself on a stool at the bar to wait. Which was probably a bad idea as it was directly in front of a tray of fresh cookies with chocolate chunks in it. So to distract myself I ordered a coffee which the manager ended up treating me to when he got back. We sat outside in the back on some cartons which I fell off of in the middle of the interview and then pretended that I needed to stretch my legs and stood the rest of the time. In any case I guess he decided that I didn't look like a homeless junkie alcoholic punk off the street because he offered me the job. We agreed that I would come to start training the next Monday at 8:00. For a week or two I'd be working two jobs but neither of them were full time and it worked out perfectly since my fridge had died the previous week. I could get lunch there and dinner at the restaurant. I was starting to get tired of rice cakes and peanut butter twice a day. I never thought that would ever happen, but alas even I have my limits.
I would like for a moment to take this moment to eulogize my fridge. It didn't exactly die, more like it was put out of its misery. It was fine the previous week except for a funny smell I couldn't get rid of even after cleaning it. Then all of the sudden we realized that nothing that was supposed to be frozen was in fact frozen. The smell in the fridge got worse, like rotten food and that's when we realized that although the motor was running, it was not cooling anything. It was effectively in a coma. My roommate found an Israeli repairman to call who said the service charge was 200 shekels and then 200 shekels for every piece he had to replace. This did not really make sense. What if the piece cost 5 shekels? What if it cost 1000? After the Israeli plumber and the Israel electrician I really didn't want to deal with anymore Israeli fix-it people. So I called a guy from Ma'ale Adumim who came over and in short said it was a motor problem. Apparently the motor is the most expensive part of the fridge and probably worth more the fridge itself. We'd been trying to get in touch with the landlady who was not returning our calls, sms's, or telepathic pleas for help. It seems she's out of the country for the summer (in France with her elderly parents), hadn't even told us she was leaving or given us anyway of reaching her or anyone else to contact in case of emergency. The apartment could have burned down, been looted, or hit by a flying elephant and she'd have no way of knowing. At this point it was up to us to decide what to do. I figured the cheapest thing would be to buy a used fridge that had a few years left in it. So we said a prayer over the comatose fridge and regretfully pulled the plug.

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