I have steadfastly maintained that Israel has the world’s smartest people and, at the same time, some of the stupidest. I should also add that Israel has some of the calmest, nothing will bother them people and some of the most neurotic, belligerent, in-your-face if they have to wait an extra second or two people on God’s green earth. The following episode will prove my point.
You didn’t ask me, but…….. I do not miss Autumn in New York – or in New Jersey either. I do not miss wasting precious hours on Sundays, raking the leaves. Nor do I miss being overwhelmed by Halloween, another reminder of my minority status as a Jew in a gentile land. Here in Ma’ale Adumim, once the Holidays are over and our sukkah has been dismantled and put away (which we accomplished by 8PM this year!), the only thing we do that could remotely be described as a “ritual,” is getting our annual flu shots. Isn’t that exciting???!!!
Most things relating to our health care clinic can be arranged on-line, but Barbara called instead. Show up at 8:40AM on Thursday, swipe your clinic card to get your appointment number, sit down, and wait to be called. (One of our friends said they called his number before he could even find a seat.) We’re invariably in and out in record time. Normally, I don’t even sit in the waiting area for fifteen minutes afterwards, as they advise. After all, it’s only a ten minute walk from the Maccabi kupat cholim to our house.
But the day we were there, we just sat and sat and sat. How can they be so backed up at 8:40 in the morning? Finally, Barbara, using her Israeli moxie, knocked on the door of the nurses’ office, opened the door, and asked what was the problem.
There sat Shoshana, a short, somewhat squat Yemenite woman, one of the regular nurses who works there. What was taking so long? What was wrong? The other regular nurse, Rachel from North America, was not there that day. Barbara later found out that it was Rachel’s birthday, and she had family visiting. So, she took the day off. That left Shoshana all by herself – except for the student she was training. Anyway, she told Barbara that we should come in, and she would get to us shortly – which she did.
To describe Shoshana as slow would be doing her a disservice. She is not slow; she is methodical, and there’s a difference. Especially when they’re dealing with patients of a certain age, the nurses are supposed to ask a lot of questions. Have you fallen recently? How is your appetite? How is your hearing? Do you do any sports? And so forth. They also weigh you and take your blood pressure. All this before they give you the flu shot.
Shoshana started with Barbara, but there were constant interruptions. A delivery guy showed up with a whole bunch of supplies, which for some reason the nurse had to deal with. Another staff member walked in with a tray full of envelopes (no idea what that was about). One of the doctors had to interrupt with a question. She had to stop and explain things to the student nurse. And then there was this guy who was also waiting for his flu shot who was evidently in a BIG hurry. He came into the nurses’ office uninvited, sat, down, and began to complain non-stop. All the while, Shoshana continued to talk to Barbara. The nurse did not bat a proverbial eyelash. She did not miss a beat. She did not raise her voice. She did not forget what she was asking or what Barbara’s answer was. She was completely unflappable. No doubt, she had raised a household of children, probably a passel of grandchildren as well. After decades of dealing with whining kids who were hungry, bored, or fighting with one another, she wasn’t going to be put off her game by one obnoxious middle aged man.
Once she was finished with Barbara, it was my turn to be asked questions, requiring my wife’s assistance as translator. (“How is his hearing,” Shoshana asked. “He hears too much,” my charming wife replied.) Actually, the nurse was carrying on two conversations at the same time, one with us and one with this guy who kept kvetching and kvetching.
Well, I passed. That is to say, I answered all of Shoshana’s questions to her satisfaction. At my age, I don’t engage in organized sports (I do not include acting as referee for our two cats in that category); my hearing is fine; I’m getting my eyes checked by an ophthalmologist on Sunday; I haven’t fallen down recently; my memory is no worse than it’s been; I don’t suffer from depression. Step on the scale; weight about what it’s been. The student nurse measures my blood pressure; in the normal range for a guy my age. In Which arm do you want the flu shot? Shoshana is the first medical person to notice that I have a small funny something on my upper right arm that has been there for as long as I can remember. “Get it checked,” she advised. She administered the flu shot. We’re done.
Now it was Mr. Kvetch’s turn. As we were leaving, we could hear the nurse begin asking her battery of questions. “Osseh sport?” (Do you do any sports?) As we walked out of the nurses’ office into the main waiting area, where we would sit down for the recommended fifteen minutes, I said to Barbara, “He’s on the Olympic Complaining Team.”