4

My Door, Nice Neighbors, and More

So, today was rather uneventful. Well, not so much for the Supreme Court and all those involved in the appeal, but for me, anyway.

I did get woken up this morning with the lovely sound of my door being replaced with a new one. It was highly unpleasant to listen to, but it got me up, out of bed, dressed, and actually doing the readings for today while cleaning the kitchen. But now I have a new door. There is no number on it yet, so I guess I live in a numberless apartment for now.

I also decided to laundry between classes. Stupidly, I started it a little too late to follow through completely, and by the time I was putting it in the dryer, this girl Molly from down the hall was putting her wash in. I needed to go to class, so I left my hamper there, and told here that if/when she needed the dryer, she could leave my stuff in this blue hamper. And when I got back from class, my clothes were actually sitting in the hamper rather than on the floor! What a nice surprise.

Normally my life is pretty rosy (or at least I portray it to be), but at the moment I’m in a rough patch. I’m not sure why, but I’m just not feeling too inspired. I think I will edit an older post, say hello to my newest country to visit (Georgia!) and then call it quits for the night.

So here is the completed post about jerks on airplanes, now with a second story added. Yay!

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5

Turbulence: You May Experience Jerks

The title pretty much says it all.

But to give you some context, it started this morning, when I was supposed to be getting ready for class but reading Facebook on my phone as usual, and I came across an article from a newspaper in New Zealand about this. By the time I had thought of a response, I had long lost the link, so I found an almost identical article here, in the Washington Post.

The article I linked above adds some scenarios that I didn’t encounter in the New Zealand article, so I’m just going to focus on the first one. It happened on an El Al airplane leaving New York (Kennedy, presumably) for Tel Aviv. Several dozen Orthodox Jewish men, some of them rabbis, refused to take seats near women, as Jewish law forbids close contact with non-related women, see one of my negia posts for more on that. After getting all the men seated, the plane finally took off, only for the men to stand back up during the flight and congregate in the aisles, rather than sitting next to women. This made life difficult for everyone else on that eleven hour trans-Atlantic flight, especially when the men offered passengers money to switch seats before takeoff.

I have to say, well done rabbis. You sure showed that plane full of people your true colors. Well, your true monochrome, that is. Now, you’ve not only gotten yourselves a reputation for being jerks, but this stunt will absolutely do wonders for the image of Jews, specifically the Orthodox, around the world. The world is not tailor-made for Jewish people; I’ve learned that the hard way, going to school on Jewish holidays and not being able to eat much from menus in places like Applebee’s, Wendy’s or the entire state of Louisiana. You’re right in the fact that it’s just not fair sometimes. But you have to pick your battles, and when you’re faced with being stuck in a giant metal tube for eleven hours with one hundred or so other people who are trying to live their lives, just sit your ass down and make your your seat belt is securely fastened. This whole not-sitting-next-to-women crap has gone way too far. The Talmud says that men and women may touch in unavoidable situations or during goal-oriented tasks, such as passing plates around a table, doing the laundry, or moving furniture. Why can’t travel fall under the same category? After all, nobody goes on a plane just to sit there and do stuff for the rest of their lives; it’s a temporary situation, so open your book, crank some Miami Boys Choir up to full volume and suck it up. The fact that it’s almost Rosh Hashanah makes it even worse. It’s like, you want to get written in the Book of Life? Try acknowledging other human beings.

I actually have two personal stories about this. The first happened in Israel. I was flying back from Cyprus, and my then-girlfriend surprised me at the airport to accompany me back to Jerusalem in a sherut (shared taxi). The principle of the sherut, especially at Ben Gurion Airport, is that you hand the driver your suitcase and pile in, sitting wherever there is a seat. Not a hard concept. It was late at night, and in our sherut there happened to be, other than us and the driver, five others: an elderly couple, a secular Jewish guy, another guy, and a younger Haredi woman traveling alone, which is a rarity. There were plenty of seats in the van, so we clambered into the back row. The couple sat in two of the front seats, and the Haredi lady sat alone next to a window. The secular Jewish guy enters the van and sits right next to Haredi lady, who asks him to give her some space, because she’d rather not sit next to him. He moves, but as soon as we’re all packed in and the motor starts, he lets Haredi lady have it, laying into her for being a Haredi, always wanting her own way, not living in this century, having so many extra privileges for being religious, and so on. Keep in mind that it’s creeping close to midnight, and we’re all tired. Haredi lady says something back to him, and he keeps going. I can barely see her face in the moonlight, but she looks like she’s on the verge of tears, so the other guy and the elderly couple come to her rescue, while we watch bemusedly from the backseat. It basically lasts the whole ride back to J’lem, not letting up until he gets out. Thankfully, he’s the first stop. After he is off, she breathes a sigh of relief.

The second story happened at Kennedy Airport on New Year’s Eve. I was on my way to Vienna, Austria, to meet DAT for the Slovakia Winter Retreat and I was boarding the plane for the first leg of the trip: New York to Zurich, Switzerland on Swiss Air. Not a lot of people fly on NYE, which is fantastic, because there is plenty of leg room. It seemed like I was among the only American on the flight. Everyone else was either going back to Switzerland, a religious Jew connecting to Israel, or a brightly-clothed African who, as I later learned, were all connecting to Douala, Cameroon. I get to my seat, and there is a super-religious Israeli girl about my age sitting in the window seat of the row. In my pajama pants, Edward Gorey t-shirt, and bright green DAT headband, I look anything but Jewish. She very visibly rolls her eyes and starts chattering in Hebrew to her friend who is standing right there. I did not catch all of what she was saying, but she was mostly bitching about having to sit next to a boy the whole time and how much this flight was going to suck. All while I’m sitting right there, pretending to stare off into space but actually listening and understanding most of their conversation.

People are starting to settle into their seats, and a lovely flight attendant comes over to me and asks me for my meal preference. She then asks if the religious girl is also sitting in this row; by this point, she has gotten out of the seat and is standing in the aisle pouting. She then addresses her directly, that she needs to sit down so she can get her meal preference, and the girl either ignores her or does not understand her English. I whisper to the flight attendant that I can speak Hebrew, and I proceed to get Miss Orthodox Jewish Bitchface’s attention by locking eyes with her and saying in rapid and pretty-well-accented (if I say so myself) Hebrew something along the lines of:

“Listen, honey. This nice lady wants to know if you’re sitting here, so you can get the food you want.”

The religious girl doesn’t look so much surprised as she does disgusted that I’m even talking to her (in her own language!) and says something like:

“Maybe I’ll sit here, maybe I’ll sit over there with my friend, I don’t know, whatever.”

I translate this to the flight attendant, who tells me she needs the girl to sit down in a seat because we are preparing for takeoff and she needs to know what the hell this girl wants to eat. Just doing her job. I translate this into Hebrew and convey it to the religious girl, who walks off in a huff with her nose in the air. Turns out I will not be seeing her for the remainder of the flight.

I turn to the flight attendant:

“Yeah, so from the bitchy display we just saw, I take it she’s not going to be eating on this flight. And if she gets hungry, well, tough luck.”

I earn some brownie points with the flight attendant, whose life is made easier by drawing a line through the religious girl’s name on her list. I feel powerful, and a little bad that she won’t get any food, but frankly, with the way she talked about me in front of my face and how she brushed off both me and the flight attendant, she didn’t deserve the delicious hot rolls and free champagne. If you don’t want to cooperate with me, someone who is trying to help you potentially get the food that you want/need, fine. But don’t take it out on a lady who’s just doing her job.

People. Entitled people.

Anyway, gentlemen…you can always swim across.

***

Works Cited

Sullivan, Gail. “Ultra-Orthodox Jews delay El Al flight, refusing to sit near women.” Morning Mix. The Washington Post. 26 September 2014. <http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/09/26/ultra-orthodox-jews-delay-el-al-flight-refusing-to-sit-near-women/&gt;

9

OH HELL NO NOT THIS AGAIN.

One of the perks of my new apartment building is the underground, temperature-controlled parking structure. It costs a little extra but in a city where parking is high demand and a state where cars freeze to death in the winter, it’s an investment. When I signed the papers in December of last year, the parking spots had not been assigned yet. When I asked the leasing manager which spot was mine, she said, “They’re just about all open, so take your pick.” I selected a spot right at the front, that would be easy to get into. It’s not so easy to get out of, but I’m working on it, but it’s definitely a prime location.

I came in from shopping last night, and…there’s a car parked in my spot.

This is the EXACT reason why I didn’t want to have to deal with having just a parking lot pass again without an assigned spot. This past year, I had a pass to park in a specific lot, and if someone without a pass was parked in the lot (very easy to do, since the lot is not gated or guarded) and you were the unlucky person who didn’t get a spot, then you had to park either far away or at a meter, risking being ticketed or towed. It wasn’t really that bad until June, when summer classes were going on and since the weather was nicer more people were coming to visit the school I guess, and even though some people may have gone home for the summer, there would still be five or so unauthorized cars parked there at any given time. The company that I rented the spot from ($135 a month, thank you very much) had signs up about ticketing and towing, but there would be cars there that wouldn’t move for days. I called to complain almost every day, to the point of tears and basically got “we’re trying as hard as we can.” One day, I tried calling the number of the towing company on the sign, and found out that they had been out of business FOR A YEAR. I even called an actual towing company, only to be told that since I wasn’t the property manager, I was not authorized to do anything. Basically, there was nothing I could do other than pray for someone to leave so I could take the spot which I paid for.

Now, with an assigned spot, I was hoping that this problem wouldn’t happen again. Especially since there are only 26 spaces in the lot.

Fast forward to last night. So I get home at about 11:30 PM, after spending the day shopping, and, you guessed it, car parked in my spot. Big black Ford Expedition truck. It had a building parking permit decal in the back window, just like I have, so I gave him/her the benefit of the doubt, that maybe some jerk parked in his/her spot, so I parked in the spot next to it and hoped that I wouldn’t get in trouble.

After spending all day yesterday unloading boxes and shopping, I decided to take most of the day off, not even leaving the apartment until well into the afternoon. I had all but forgotten about the situation when I got down to the parking lot and saw the Ford Expedition still there, only now it had a sign taped to the back:

To the tenant who rents this spot: My truck will not fit in my assigned spot, so I am going to be parking here. I am working this out with the management. My spot, #24, is open. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Since it was now after hours, I had no one to complain to. Being the reasonable human being that I am, I went to space #24 to see if a switch would be possible. And…it’s a compact car only spot. Between a wall and a pole. Before I left, I tried getting my car into that spot, but once parked, there was no way I could get out the door.

I left the parking lot to do my shopping, passing the black Ford Expedition and its little “sorry” sign taunting me from the spot that I selected and signed for last December.

Okay, here’s what’s wrong with this picture…wait a minute, the answer to that would be EVERYTHING. Aside from the obvious jerk move of PARKING IN MY SPOT, you had to leave the most patronizing note ever. “Sorry for the inconvenience?” If you were really sorry, you wouldn’t have parked there all night in the first place! “Working this out with the management?” Yeah, I’m pretty sure that if there were an issue, the management would contact me before YOU PARKED YOUR BIG ASS TRUCK IN SOMEONE ELSE’S SPOT. Then comes the fact that you paid for a compact car only spot, either assuming your car would fit or blatantly forgetting that you have a truck that’s as big as a studio apartment, which you obviously need for all the hay bales, woodpiles, and livestock you have to transport here in Madison.

Anyway, when I got back tonight, the Ford Chutzpah was gone, so I parked in my spot.

I might not ever move my car again but at least I got my spot.