“Thirteen years I have lived in this country,” I ranted to my new classmate as we trudged out of the Hebrew University a few hours ago, “and I still don’t get it . . . in fact, I will never get it!”
I was sharing with Ofer what had been bothering me all day, probably for the very reason that I was not quite sure why . . .
After informing a friend (“Friend”) in Tel Aviv, yesterday (Wednesday) evening, that I was going to be spending today looking for a new car, he mumbled something about waiting for him to speak to the Volkswagen dealership from which he had recently purchased his Polo.
Chaver mavi chaver, I assumed – literally “A friend brings a friend”, a cash incentive common in these parts – and suggested that we split it (as is also common) “chetzi-chetzi” (fifty-fifty). “Yes,” came the reply, without really sounding meant.
Accompanying me on the short walk up Lincoln and onto Yitzhak Sadeh (where the dealership is based), this morning, Friend came clean, informing me that he had told the salesman that he was bringing me and had already negotiated a free service for himself if I, too, purchase a VW.
First, there was the knowledge that nothing in this country comes free, and that Friend’s ‘free’ service will definitely be coming off my end of the deal.
Troubling me considerably more, however, was the vulture mentality: What is it about the natives, that they have to get in/have an angle on absolutely bloody everything . . . even a mate forking out 20-25 thousand quid on a new car?! The same friend in England would have negotiated a bigger discount for me, rather than instinctively thinking what he could get out of the deal for himself. And it is not as if he had introduced me to “This wonderful thing called Volkswagen!” The showroom had been top of my list.
Perhaps I am just a meany – indeed, that was Ofer’s take: “Lama ata lo rotzeh lefargen?” (effectively, “Why don’t you want Friend to receive his just reward?”) – though, more likely, it just wasn’t very comfortable having to gaze in the mirror.
[With the time constraints of being back at school, but still getting the occasional urge to write, posts from now on will be shorter . . . if, as above, not sweeter!]