Romi Sussman

Customer Service is Alive and Well in Israel

Talk about an only in Israel experience. I work in a building in Alon Shvut that houses a butcher, a music store, a furniture restoration store and a few other odds and ends. I’ve been meaning, for ages, to go to the furniture restoration store to see if he can salvage our leather sofa. But I never get around to walking those ten feet down the stairs from my office to his.

Then, after 9 years of loving use, one of our beloved bean bags got a hole. We bought this bean bag before we made Aliyah and now it’s enjoyed being tormented by our kids for years. And with this recent hole, the filler inside started going everywhere in the house.

So, inspired by necessity, I threw the huge bean bag into the car on the way to work and plopped it down at their store. The Restorno store owner, Nati, looked at the bean bag and at the hole and declared that it wasn’t worth my money to have him fix it. It was easy, he said, and he would show me how.

Um, come again?

Now, anyone who knows me well knows that I don’t iron (EVER), that I don’t bake well and that I don’t – and I mean never in my entire life – sew. I tried to take a sewing class in Potomac once, and I came back with a purse that was sewn in the wrong direction and couldn’t open. My husband tried really hard not to laugh, but my lack of ability was so painfully obvious. So, I knew this was going to be quite an experience.

Here is Nati in his workshop.

“Come on!” this young store owner with the jovial eyes declared. “Come downstairs one day when you have ten minutes and I’ll show you how to sew it.”

So today, I put on my “can do” armor and walked down the stairs. He greeted me with a big smile and a “you can do it” attitude, pulled out some kind of cool curved needle (never seen those in my life) and got me ready. He showed me a few stitches and then told me it was my turn. Trying not to laugh, I explained that I understood, in theory, what he was saying, but that I had no idea how to replicate it.

Now – keep in mind that not only was a receiving a sewing lesson (gasp!) but I was receiving one entirely in Hebrew (double gasp). There is a limit to miracles, people.

So he pulled out a sticky note and folded it and started trying to demonstrate to me what the issue was and how I should be sewing it. I started laughing and explained that I really, truly had no idea what he was saying but that he was so sweet.

He wouldn’t give up. He showed me again (I kept hoping that if he just showed me the stitch enough times he would finish off the bean bag before my turn came!). But that didn’t quite happen. I ended up doing a few of the stitches among his “Mazal Tov!” and “Kol Hakavod!” cheers. We finished off the job and he said, “See! You did it. Now you can use that stitch on anything. It’s an amazing stitch.”

I said, “Uhuh…absolutely.” And was about to leave, when I noticed another hole. Oh darn!

“No problem,” he said, putting the needle and thread into my hand. “Now you can do it on your own.”

Oh, come on.

“Um,” I said, clearing my throat, “Great. Yeah. I’ll take this home with me and get it done and bring you back the needle.”

No problem!

And thus ended my sewing lesson, in the middle of Alon Shvut, at the furniture restoration store.

A happy bean bag, resting comfortably post-surgery

Where else in the world would the store owner take 10 minutes out of his day to teach a customer how to sew their bean bag back together? If you need a restoration project done, Nati is definitely your guy. A breath of fresh customer service air in a country that isn’t always known for this quality.

About the Author
Romi Sussman is a teacher and writer. When she's not at her computer, she's juggling raising six boys ages 13-23 and conquering daily life as an Olah. She enjoys blogging here and on her personal blog at