As is generally known, Israelis don’t mince their words, are direct and impatient. I usually love it! The chart below is an excellent guide for those unfamiliar with the cultural differences between Israelis and other nations. (In short: Israelis and Japanese are polar opposites. To my surprise, Israel surpasses Italy in confrontational and emotionally expressive citizens).
So, how does this translate into my daily life?
I quickly understood the phrase, “Ani rak shelah” (I just have a question). This generally means that one can cut the line or interrupt a conversation because:
1. My question is clearly more important than your matter
2. I am sicker than you and need immediate attention
3. I’ve been waiting longer than you so it doesn’t make sense that you were called before me
4. It’s a brief question that requires only a simple answer
5. Do we really need these numbers and/or lines?
6. My question simply is-why am I not being seen now?
Mind you, sometimes I am waiting patiently in line to ask my question/have an appointment and the person whom I am waiting to speak with invites me to cut the line (clearly they are impatient with the customer they are helping and/or that person had so many questions that it’s an opportunity for multitasking).
However, I’ve been told that things have become significantly more organized here in recent years with numbers given out at places like banks and the post office (where one can actually receive a number before entering via SMS).
However, at my local health care branch, the patients are so out of control that the doctors and nurses have BUZZERS on their doors. I love the national healthcare system in Israel, but this clinic is in a neighborhood with a disproportionate number of elderly people, many of whom have health issues. There never seems to be enough doctors or nurses for all of the sick patients waiting for them, creating a general sense of unease, impatience and balagan. In an attempt to keep some order and stop the patients from barging in before their allotted time with a question and/or demand to be seen, there are buzzers on the office doors. But, many patients still manage to surreptitiously enter offices to ask their question or demand to be seen whenever an office door opens….
If you’re coming to Israel for leisure, work or to live, this negotiating chart, based on nationalities, might be of use.