Yesterday, I gained some firsthand physical knowledge of the complicated relationship between the car and the pedestrian here in Israel. After I screamed, swore, cried, and hyperventilated, and finally determined that I was capable of ambulation, the driver asked if I wanted to be dropped off somewhere. I had a hard time struggling with my default of unfaltering politeness, but ended up reminding the person, at great length, of the all the reasons why I had some doubts about their driving ability.
My landlady had been upset with me when I had left that morning, because I went outside in the rain wearing Crocs. Not the standard Crocs, I hasten to add, but actual closed toed flats manufactured by the company. After my incident, I returned to my apartment to sort out the complicated web of Israeli accident reporting. When I walked back in the door, the landlady was surprised to see me. Even after I explained in detail about my mishap, she continued to go on about how she thought I had come back to change my shoes.
I got advice to call my health insurance company to see where they wanted me to go to get checked out. Because I was staying outside of my usual coverage area, the customer service representative told me to call the local branch to get a special dispensation to see the English speaking doctor on staff. After 30 minutes of repeated calls, no one answered the phone, except once when the person claimed not to be able to hear me and hung up. I finally gave up and just headed there anyway, only to get through on my cell when I was about 10 minutes away.
“I got hit by a car,” I told the secretary. “The Meuhedet call center said you had an English speaking doctor on staff now. They said I had to call first to get permission since I am outside of my usual district.”
“Oh. Um, okay. Uh, wait. It says here you should see this other doctor by Jerusalem.”
I started speaking more slowly. “Yes, if I were in Jerusalem, I would be more than happy to do that. But right now, I’m in Tel Aviv.”
I mean, did she really think I was calling from Jerusalem after a car accident to see if someone in Tel Aviv could check out my leg?!
“Oh. Sure. We have a doctor here now. But not an English speaker. We have a Hebrew speaker…”
“But, the only reason Meuhedet told me to go to your office is because Dr. Insert Unpronounceable is the only English speaker who is on staff right now anywhere in the area…”
“Oh… THAT Dr. Insert Unpronounceable. Okay, come on in.”
When I got to the office, Dr. Unpronounceable had a line of four patients already, and more were coming in behind me. We all sat stoically, furtively assessing each other’s ailments. Every time someone coughed, we edged a little farther away, fearing TB or the plague. I cleared my throat, and the person in the next seat flinched.
“Don’t worry,” I said. “I was in a car accident. It’s not catchy.” He looked at me like he had heard that one before.
An elderly lady, I’m guessing at least 55, came into the waiting area and considered all of us. She asked us if we were all waiting for Dr. Unpronounceable. We nodded. Then, she asked if we had anything really serious, because she was double parked. Apparently, In Israel things like doctor-patient confidentiality are small potatoes compared to parking fines. The guy ahead of me agreed to let her go ahead of him. I thought of pointing out that, due to the transitive property, this would also put her ahead of me, and she didn’t look like she had been hit by a car. But my inner Midwesterner won out, and I just simmered passively.
When it was my turn, I soon found out why Dr. Unpronounceable wasn’t on the secretary’s radar as an English speaker. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to do fake sign language for “hit by a car”, so he did a complete workup for me, and gave me a bunch of instructions, and not nearly enough painkillers. He told me I had been very lucky, but that he still wanted me to go get an xray, to rule out any damage. I asked him where I could go, since my boss had already given me the day off (I love working in high tech; The “hit by a car ” days are a nice bonus). But Dr. Insert (we were on a first name basis by this point) told me that the local xray facility had closed for the day, and since it wasn’t an emergency, I had to wait until the next day. So folks, make sure you have accidents really early in the day, if you actually want to get anything checked out.
I thanked Dr. Insert, and gathered up all my papers, and then something on one the pages caught my eye. On the bottom, it said Chronic, Investigation for Obesity. So, now I am so fat that the doctor is actively investigating the role it played in my survival. Kind of like that Samuel Jackson movie, Unbreakable. I shrugged, defeated, and limped off into the rain.
Yah, I know Bruce Willis was in the movie, too. What are you going to do about it?! Bring it on.