Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Dude, Where's My Wallet?

                Exactly one week ago, I misplaced my wallet whilst returning from Modi'in back to Jerusalem. You know those beautiful and life-affirming stories about people who lose their wallets/phones/marriage licenses/pets in Eilat and suddenly it winds up on their doorstep in Jerusalem? The kind where you wink and say "Only in Israel!"The kind where you just can't believe how crazy- wonderful life in Israel can be?! Well, this is not one of those stories! A full week later and I still have no wallet, nor even the faintest idea of where it might be. The main reason for this is that I don't know whether the wallet was stolen or misplaced, and that distinction has made all the difference. But for purposes of this blog post, I will focus on the funny, the silly, the exasperating parts of losing a wallet, while having only being an Israeli for a month and a half.
               So I'm on the bus and the first thing to note is that this is not an Egged bus. Egged is the largest bus provider in the country and most certainly in the Jerusalem area. Ninety-five percent of the buses I take in this country are Egged. But not this bus! This was a line called Kavim, which caters to the Modi'in area (about 30 minutes outside Jerusalem) and I would soon learn, Kavim is not my friend. This particular Tuesday I was absolutely exhausted. I had woken up at 5 AM to meet the newest olim via charter flight at the airport. What an amazing experience to welcome 330 Jew brothers and sisters in their new life in Israel! It just warmed my cold heart. Then I took the train (another chavaya/experience all on it's own!) to Tel Aviv to meet friends. I know Tel Aviv is, like, the greatest place ever, but I personally don't enjoy being there, going there, or visiting there, so it was a bittersweet excursion. The weather in Tel Aviv in the summer is somewhere between a swamp, a rain forest minus any precipitation, and a crowded sauna. All told, it is a place I visit because some of my favorite people live there and because, quite frankly, Birthrighters won't come visit me in Jerusalem.
              From Tel Aviv, I get a ride to Modi'in, which is essentially a large new neighborhood of apartment buildings with a huge shopping center in the middle. I don't mean to slight Modi'in- if you live there and I'm missing something cool, please let me know! Anyway, I mostly took the ride there because now that I have no car, riding in a car that I don't have to pay for is the greatest thing ever. Ask any American (or person!) who moves here and has to give up the comfort and mobility that comes with one's own car- getting a ride is just the biggest treat in life! I shopped for a bit in Modi'in and then boarded the bus back to Jerusalem. And conked out. The bus pulls into the Central Bus Station, I put on my pink headphones and head back to town. While walking back, I look into my bag for gum and notice that there is a suspiciously large amount of room in the bag. I have a small bag and an even smaller wallet, so there is an alarming lack of heft on my shoulder. I look in my shopping bags- and....nothing. I run back to the bus stop, all the way back sniffing the ground like a bloodhound, eyes peeled to the pavement, looking for my tiny, puffy wallet. It is not on the ground. Then I go into 2014-mode, googling names and numbers of the bus company on my phone. After an annoying debacle of finally locating the number for Superbus, I remember that my bus line was Kavim! 
                 So I finally locate Kavim's number, which sends me to an automated system. Lest any of you readers forget, I am Class B2 in ulpan. Today I learned a story from a children's TV show. I most certainly am not at the level of responding to an automated phone system! Apparently in this country, pressing zero does not take you to the operator- it takes you to the beginning of the automated system! Tears in my eyes, I frantically dialed the second number given on the website and blessedly got the voice of a live representative! After establishing he spoke English ("ehhhhhm a leeetle...") he understood my dilemma. 
"So, can you help me? I'm freaking out!"
"Oh, I understand. Eet must be so hard. So what bus was this?"
"The 110. From Modi'im"
"Oh, then you must call Kavim. This is Egged. I cannot help you."      
                  Can you imagine? Finally a live, English-speaking bus rep and he doesn't work for Kavim! Only in Israel! Anyway, let me skip ahead. Ultimately, thanks to my cousin, I made contact with a human Kavim rep. He left my message for the  bus drivers. So did the next rep I spoke to later that evening. And the one the next morning. And the one that afternoon. By the 4th time, my online file was jam-packed full of fruitless requests to the lost and found and I realized that maybe the glorious, miraculous stories we hear about finding what was lost was not in the cards. At that point, it was about rebuilding my life, via my wallet.
                Remember my blog post about the tedium of running errands here in Jerusalem? Imagine doing it all over again one month later. The bank, the health insurance, the bus card, the Jerusalem card, the student ID- all replaced in record time. Then came the American side of things. I had been checking my American bank to ensure nothing had been charged (blessedly) and reordered my credit cards, driver's license and Starbucks card (priorities- I'm working on a gold card!) Now all I have to do is wait until my visiting friends transport these cards over to me so I can resume life as normal. 
               All told, I lost a little bit of money (thankfully I rarely use cash. I'm as Ashkenazi as they come) and gained a whole lot of aggravation. I tell myself that things could have been much worse, that now I'm on a much-needed budget (blech) and that I'll know to be more careful in the future. Really, the hardest part is over- I told my mom I lost my wallet and she had a way smaller heart attack than I expected! And the best part is- I had a great story to tell all of you! Onwards and upwards!

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