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The Human Factor

I returned to Israel after a one-week trip to Chile, from a mild winter to a hot summer. All had gone smoothly and had been very interesting and enjoyable. That is, until I found myself waiting for my suitcase at Ben Gurion Airport.

Chile is going through an extraordinary process that included an “Entrance Plebiscite” in which Chileans decided they want a new constitution and how to prepare it, then they spent a one-year period on writing a new proposed text. And finally, an “Exit Plebiscite”, in which there are only two choices: Apruebo (Approval) or Rechazo (Rejection). The Propuesta (Proposal) contains more than 160 pages, 388 articles plus 57 transitional provisions, all included in a booklet which can be found online, but print copies of it are also distributed for free at the Constitution Square in front of Chile’s Presidential Palace named “La Moneda”.

It is a tight race, which will be decided in the Exit Plebiscite on September 4, 2022, only a few days from the writing of this blog.

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Upon my return to Israel, the news had not changed much. Actually, at this time, there are quite a lot of commonalities between the news there and here. As both countries experience concerns about rising inflation and its potential impact on the economies, especially on the weaker sectors of the populations. Alike the Central Banks are the main players in trying to cool down the economies.

These are the big, important things going on. I should have been fully focused on them.

But no, I have been quite focused on my suitcase. The reason is not only the lost personal items and the trouble of replacing them, assuming the airline and/or the insurance would cover the costs. It is the sharp contrast between a supposedly advanced, digital system and the reality facing the person looking for his/her lost suitcase. First, why did my suitcase have to wait for the next flight and not make the connection, as I did? The time available was as planned in the purchased ticket, but the suitcase was left back in Paris. And then, the impossibility of getting a hint about what’s going on with the suitcase…  while the provided website is often down or not updated. No one ever answers at the phone number provided by the instructions, only a recording explaining there is too much pressure at the airport. The only hope is to wait for the phone call from the courier who is supposed to bring the suitcase if it was found.

Well, in my case, after 72 hours, no phone call came from the courier. On the lost luggage website, the status of my suitcase changed to “please complete baggage inventory and claim form.”

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I was about to start filling out the claim form (which would take approximately 40 minutes, as explained in the instructions) when at about 8PM in the evening, I received a call from an unknown mobile number. A woman asked me if I had lost a suitcase. Yes!, I exclaimed. While waiting for their luggage at the Ben Gurion Airport, she explained, they saw dozens of suitcases left close to the baggage carousel and decided to do a favor to one of their owners. I happened to be the lucky one! She offered to take my lost suitcase to their home.

Of course, I was thrilled by the development. Thinking about it, one can be more optimistic about the world. No digital revolution can beat the human factor. In the end, it was a human being who made the difference.

Now I can go back to the really important issues. Wishing the Chileans a successful plebiscite, and both the Chileans and the Israelis peace along with thriving and equitable economies, for the benefit of both their peoples.

About the Author
Dr. Eitan Yudilevich completed his doctoral studies in computers and systems engineering in the field of medical imaging in the Department of Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He earned his Master's Degree in mathematics at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and his Bachelor's and Master's Degrees in electrical engineering at Haifa's Technion. Dr. Yudilevich assumed the Executive Director position at the BIRD Foundation on January 1, 2006.
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