Deputy Minister of the Environment

It started when I smelled a smell. It came through the windows of our apartment in Baka (known to the Deputy Minister of Hebraic Nomenclature as Geulim). It smelled like gasoline, and the likely source was the neighborhood gas station.

So, I figured I’d call the Ministry of Environment (MOE), tell them about it, and they’d spring into action. Warning: technical gobbledygook to follow (in italics). They’d at least send a technician to periodically monitor the gas station with an organic vapor meter. If they got some positive hits, they’d probably set up a small monitoring station and track the vapor levels over a period of several weeks, maybe throw in a little gas chromatography to see exactly what the neighborhood was being exposed to. And then, they’d fix it.

Ha ha ha. When I finally got through to the MOE, they argued with me.
“You’re not smelling gasoline.”
“I am.”
“You’re probably smelling kerosene smoke from a heater.”
“No, it’s definitely gasoline.”
“I’m not an idiot, I can tell the difference between gasoline and burning kerosene.”
“You are an idiot.”
And so on.

Finally, just as I hoped, they sprang into action! They sent to my house in Baka (known to one magical, feral cat as Geulim)…a form. That’s right. A form for me to complete every time I smelled that smell. And thus, I was deputized.

For each incident, here are the 10 fields I was to complete:

  • Date
  • Time
  • Duration
  • Strength of smell
  • Nature of smell
  • Effect of smell
  • Wind velocity
  • Wind direction
  • Humidity
  • Ambient temperature

I got to work, doing my civic duty (with significant guesswork), three times over a period of eight days. Nine months later, I can proudly report…I lost the form.

Maybe the MOE is short on cash, so they have to dump this kind of stuff on citizens in the hope that they lose interest, or the form. Or maybe it’s an attitude. Either way, it gives me the red-ass.

So, I’m going to spring into action, in two phases.

Phase I: There are only eight lines available for data entry on my fresh, blank form. I should be able to “remember” 8 odor events – major ones. I’ll have that form done and submitted by tomorrow.

Phase II: I’m going to lobby for the transfer of funds from the state rabbinate to the MOE. An underfunded rabbinate would be great for many reasons, and I’m happy to perform weddings and to check restaurants for illicit goods. I’d be a much better deputy rabbi than gas station “attendant.” And the MOE can hire someone to fill out their own damn form.

About the Author
Nathan Bigman is the author of the book Shut Up and Eat (How to quietly become a triplitarian) .