People who visit or move to Israel from “Western” countries know that Israeli culture is very different than the culture wherever they come from. It’s much more in your face, straight forward and, sometimes, a “Westerner” might think it a little, well, rude.
Honestly, maybe it’s because I’m hiding at home (kidding, sort of) but since I moved back to Jerusalem from Vancouver, B.C., I haven’t found it to be too bad. You have individuals who are rude and you see things here you wouldn’t see other places (like this guy who had wooden slats fall off his pick up truck so he stopped right in the middle of the road (there was TONS of traffic at the time) and started nonchalantly walking through the middle of the street picking up what he’d dropped) because people are more prone to just do what they feel like doing (which, in general, is great, no?). But when I have to deal with people here one-on-one, it’s really not too bad. At least so far that’s how it’s been.
I just got a phone call. A couple of days ago I emailed the mega food company Tnuva that I’m getting mail from them and I don’t want to anymore. A woman with the utmost will to offer good customer service (not as “professional” sounding as she would have been in Canada but I couldn’t give a damn) called to find out what I was referring to. She took all my information and told me she’s going to pass it on and she hopes I’ll stop getting the mail, as I requested. How lovely that conversation was. Of course I don’t believe I won’t receive the mail until I see it with my own two eyes, but I appreciate the will and effort very much.
But here’s something funny that happened to me and please tell me what you think.
One very cool thing I learned in Vancouver was to say thank you to the bus driver when I get off the bus, even when I get off in the back! When I first arrived in Vancouver, it seemed so funny to me, to see everyone shouting “Thank you, Driver!” from the back of the bus when getting off. But what a nice thing to do and so I got used to doing it too. You make eye contact with the driver with the help of his/her rear-view mirror and you say thank you.
So the first time I took the bus here, last week, I got off in the back and, without thinking, shouted “Todah!” to the driver as I got off. (Isn’t that funny that even though it was subconscious, I still said it in Hebrew?)
I actually got off the bus embarrassed! It must have seemed so strange to the people on the bus. I know, it’s nice and there’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s so out of character for Israel. Not that people don’t say thank you, but not shouting up like that.
Now I have a dilemma. Do I continue doing this or do I conform to the local society? Of course I think it’s really nice to make this gesture but I’m shy! It’s embarrassing doing this because it really brings attention to yourself.
On the other hand, imagine if this became regular practice here in Israel. In general Israelis have become a lot more polite so someone must have started the change, right?
What do you think? Should I do it? Would you do it in Israel?