Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Not the Nightmare People Expect

Israeli Government offices have a awful reputations, inefficiency, time-wasting etc, but I really must tell you the truth.  They are actually pretty efficient.  Here and there they can have nasty clerks whose job it is to ruin your day, but on the whole I've found them surprisingly efficient and even pleasant in recent years.

Yesterday I had to take my father to Jerusalem, to the Ministry of the Interior to take care of something.  I hired someone to drive us and provide "taxi service" between locations.  Before he dropped us off he said that he had something to do in a different part of Jerusalem.  I told him that I was pretty sure that he wouldn't be back in time.  He has been in Israel just a few months less than we have, and we're approaching the forty year anniversary.  So, of course he's still traumatized by the "old way" things were done.  Instead we decided that I would call him when I walked in and let him know if it seemed crowded or not.

One of the improvements is that there are afternoon hours twice a week, from 2:30pm -5:30, if I remember correctly.  Years ago, there were awful stories of people who came a couple of hours after it opened and all the numbers were taken.  They were told:
"Come back tomorrow."

Because of that, old-time Israelis will still tell you to get there early, before opening.  Actually, that's the dumbest thing you can do, because that's the only time there's a long line.  When I go in the morning I come around 11am and there's almost nobody waiting.  Yesterday we got there at 4pm.  No crowds.  Of course people were waiting, but the numbers moved quickly, so I told the driver to stay in the neighborhood.

I had the form, etc ready, but since my father moves slowly I was afraid that three more numbers would be called before I'd get him to to clerk.  So I explained to him that I would run the clerk, hand in the folder and then go to get him.

That's what we did and it took just a few minutes.  Now it's possible to pay the clerk with a credit card.  We used to have to go to a special cashier, yes, another line to wait on.  Things are better now.


Hadassa said...

I've been in Israel for twenty years. It is absolutely incredible how much more polite clerks have become and how much quicker lines move.

Batya said...

It isn't just clerks. The system is more efficient and there's less pressure on the clerks because of it. You can print your own form before going, so you're more ready. It makes a big difference.