This post is the thirteenth in a series about 25 years living in Israel.
Compared to the nuisance of mosquitoes, the bureaucracy of the Ministry of Interior is really a Minor disturbance. They are more like a very exacting Friend. They don’t bite, they don’t make you itch. They just want you to be really really on time to our appointment. And when you get there, before opening time, they want you to stand in a long line to meet them, while they take all the time and more to drink their coffee, talk on their phone and take care of people in an order that is not entirely clear to us. They are more like a Friend who, when you bring them a cookie, would only have pizza, and when you come with pizza next time, lament about the topping not being green olives but corn (but they did not tell you, last time, that they ONLY eat green olives on pizza). And they are the kind of Friend who occasionally yells at you for existing, because that is clearly your fault, and at other times (when the coffee was hot and tasty, and they had enough sleep) can exhibit unexpected friendliness and helpfulness. Very occasionally. They decide about life and death, and they know it. But they are human, and a well placed tear, or smile, has been known to melt them. Once in a blue moon.
We have had various experiences with our Friend, over the years. Before there was ‘we’, I had a more difficult relationship with my Friend the Ministry. Sometimes my Friend yelled at me, other times he sighed audibly at my persistence to come to meet him every year. Once in a while he told me not to come back. Once he asked me to write him a letter, promising I would not come back after a number of years that he would, in return, promise to stay my friend. But we always worked it out, and I always did come back, trembling, sometimes more than once a year.
Then I became We. My Friend, now Our Friend, thawed out a little. True, he did not forgive us for bringing him corn pizza when he wanted green olives. But when we came back with green olives, he smiled a little. And when we continued bringing him exactly what he wanted, over the years, his smile became broader. Our friend demands more money, and considerable effort, every time we have a meeting. And we still have to wait. And wait. And wait. Till it is our turn.
But this is nothing in return for his friendship. His smile lightens our day (that began so terribly early, in order to stand in line). His friendly behavior makes us sigh with relief. Another yearly meeting concluded – and we are still friends!
Today I did the ultimate deed to win his friendship. I asked to become a member of his club. It is not for everyone, and I am well aware of the privilege it would be. But I am hoping he will let me join!