Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Smiling At Strangers
One needs to concentrate extra hard here on traffic, bearing in mind the notorious reputation Israelis possess for fast and tragically reckless driving. In the USA as a pedestrian I rely on the rules of the road, and making eye contact with drivers, and even a smile to connect to them so they won't moe me down. I tried the same here: forget about it. I smile the goofy American smile--the driver justs look back at me hard and vacantly. Israelis live on either side of conventional American politeness. Rudeness brusqueness bluntness counterpointed by "WELCOME WE ARE YOUR FAMILY HERE'S A CAKE OR CHALLAH WE BAKED FOR YOU SHABBAT SHALOM." The driver in the car's preoccupied or looking at me thinking why the hell is he smiling at me--he doesn't even know me. It's a relationship or not, substantial or not, none of the I just met you and I think you're the greatest person I've ever met facile stuff. Charm doesn't work here--I think the likes of Clinton would have a tough go of it.