Aliya: Trusting the process… and strangers

The “honesty” payment system left me baffled.

A man changes the tire on a car in Abu Ghosh, near Jerusalem (photo credit: AMMAR AWAD/REUTERS)
A man changes the tire on a car in Abu Ghosh, near Jerusalem
(photo credit: AMMAR AWAD/REUTERS)
ONE OF my favorite life-coaching life lessons is learning to “trust the process.” For me, it means letting go of one’s fears and “limiting beliefs” and having faith that things are going to work out the way they are supposed to, in the end. But trusting other people is a whole different topic, and I have been amazed on so many occasions in the last few months by the way people in Israel often trust strangers, clearly giving them the benefit of the doubt or believing that fellow human beings are simply genuinely good people.
Going the extra mile…
Standing in a tire shop in the industrial area of Ra’anana, nine months into our aliya, is not exactly what I would call my comfort zone. My knowledge of car parts is embarrassingly sparse. I’m also not proud of the fact that up until now, all vehicle related purchases and repairs have been handled by my better half. But with my husband out of town that week, I had no choice but to up my game and tackle this tire puncture dilemma on my own.
The Israeli tire shop owner was helpful and efficient, his tough, almost curt, verbal tone betraying the fact he was clearly the type of person who would go the extra mile for his clients. After attaching a new tire at the front of my car, he asked me if I would stay and watch over the premises, because he had to leave for a short while. The surprised look on my face prompted him to explain that it was important to check that all four tires were aligned, and that he wouldn’t be long. That wasn’t why I was shocked. I couldn’t understand why a man would leave his empty shop with a total stranger “watching over it.” I smiled to myself when I realized the “trust” I had shown in turn, as I had willingly given him the keys to my car to take it to an unknown destination.
So, there I was standing in a tire shop, wondering what I would say to any customer who may pop in? Would I attempt to sell them a black tire with a wide rim or perhaps they’d prefer a slimmer model, in the same shade of black? While honing my sales pitch in my head, I saw my car returning up the driveway outside. As promised, the alignment at the nearby premises hadn’t taken long and I drove out a short while later, highly amused at the unusual way things had all been sorted out.
Do you want more chips?
The issue of “trusting” a client also came up in conversation, when we were enjoying shwarmas at a casual place in Ramat Hasharon. The “honesty” payment system left me baffled. You order your shwarma at a counter and can then return to the buffet section for as much chips and as many salads as you can handle. The drinks are taken out of a fridge at the far end of the eatery. Only when you’re all finished eating do you go to the counter and tell the cashier how much you owe. It’s an informal system, and seemingly no one is keeping tabs on how many drinks are being taken out of the fridge. “How does this work?” I asked. “It would also be easy for someone to change the number of meals they’d ordered, especially when it’s so packed.”
“But why would anyone do that?” came the equally surprised response, from a woman who has lived here for many years. A refreshing question. An excellent point.
Trusting the process is seemingly easy. Trusting strangers – the way people seem to do here – is going to take a little time. But I am certainly looking forward to that journey.