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Orli waiting at the Discount Bank


1/2 bottle of scotch whisky


Roman coins


antiquities in Jerusalem

 
ON THE LIGHTER SIDE: FOOTLOOSE AND PENNILESS IN ASHKELON AND JERUSALEM

Rhonda Spivak, posted Feb 21, 2012

Israel-I spent a night in Ashkelon in Southern Israel recently staying over at the apartment of Orli and Ariel Avior.
 
Orli has always told me "We have everything here in Ashkelon."
 
We arrived in the evening after ten and I said that I needed to get to a bank machine to get some cash before we were to go to Jerusalem the next morning.
 
Orli pulls up to a Discount Bank machine near a large shopping mall and I put in my card but the machine spits it out and says, "Service is Temporarily Unavailable." I repeat this one more time and when the same thing happens, we agree that I should try another bank.
 
We go to another branch of Discount Bank and the same thing happens again. It's getting late. I say "Looks like Ashkelon is closed for business tonight."
 
The next morning we go to pick up an external hard drive and we find something for 600 shekel. I go to pay and realize that I have no money but I produce my VISA card from Canada. The store says they won't take my foreign visa, only an Israeli visa.
 
So Orli pays and I now owe her money.
 
We are hungry and I am supposed to be the one treating for lunch. Ariel wants Shwarma, and there's no way that the Shwarma restaurant where people are standing in long lines is going to take my foreign visa. We eat at a new chain restaurant that specializes in healthy salads and the like. The place is packed with women and no men (since they are all next door in the schwarma line) They take my visa--I am relieved.
 
There is another bank machine near the restaurant but the maximum I can take out for it is 300 shekels (but I already owe Orli 600 shekels).
 
We decide that we'll get to Jerusalem where we are to meet an archeologist and antiquities dealer and find a bank there. Orli's car is making a terrible noise that has been going on for a while and seems to get louder as we are on the highway to Jerusalem.
 
Ariel is already starting to look like he's pouting. "Ariel hates Jerusalem" Orli says. "Because every time he comes with me we get lost."
 
I have a sinking feeling in my stomach when she says this.
 
We get to Jerusalem and Orli is using her GPS to give us directions how to get to our destination.
 
Next thing I know I look up and see that we are almost in Ramallah. "Orli, you've passed most of East Jerusalem and we're nearby Ramallah." If we kept going she and Ariel wouldn't have been able to cross the checkpoint since they are Israelis but I would have. I'm starting to think that maybe I should hop into Ramallah to get to a bank! Maybe in Palestine I could withdraw some money
 
Orli says we can't be near Ramallah as she is merely following the directions given by the GPS and hasn't made any mistakes.
 
The problem is that not only is Orli's car still making that G-d awful noise, but only now she tells me that she hasn't gotten the latest updates to her GPS. Jerusalem streets have changed a lot in the last few years, especially with the new light rail train.
 
We finally get to the area where we think the Antiquities shop (which is completely unmarked) ought to be, but the GPS is telling us to turn onto a street which is not a street at all but has been closed off to all vehicular traffic. Ariel and I get out and try and find the place. The archeologist comes running out to show Orli where to park, but runs past her without knowing where she is and comes back to say he can't find her.
 
Finally we all arrive to see that in the middle of the Antiquities shop there is a table with a big bottle of scotch on it. Next thing we know we hear glass shattering.
 
The archeologist's assistant cries out "I don't care if an antiquity has been smashed--as long as the bottle of Scotch is O.K."
 
The other assistant tells us that she has been wearing a fertility antiquity necklace and has gotten pregnant twice. "It's because of the fertility necklace", she says.
 
The archeologist looks at her and says, "I would suggest it has nothing to do with the fertility antiquity necklace but more to do with the quality of the sperm, Madame."
 
I look around and realize that the shop is filled with piles and piles of money---exactly what I've been trying to get from bank machines unsuccessfully.
 
The problem is that the piles of money are all Roman coins two thousand years old. They are very nice to look at put they won't help me buy a Felafel.
 
Finally, in the evening, I arrive at my usual bank machine--it has never failed me. I am so excited to pull out some cash that by mistake I press the ok button too soon and I get the just under 300 shekels, not even enough to pay Orli back.
 
I try my card again and this time the machine says "There is not enough of a balance in your account for this request." I get to the point where I am only requesting to take out 100 shekel (30-40$), but it still says there are insufficient funds in my account."
 
It's past midnight and I'm on the phone with my bank in Canada trying to figure out what the problem is.
 
I speak to my family and they ask how my day was. I think about how to answer that question. "Well, I had a very productive day. I've travelled almost half the country and didn't spend a dime."
 
Postscript: The next day I don't leave the apartment as am virtually attached to my computer all day. The day after Orli arrives and we are on our way to the Sheinkin area of Tel-Aviv, when I ask her to stop at the bank so I can try to use a bank machine. "What do you mean?" she asks "You still don't have money?"
 
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.


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