Monday, November 10, 2008

Lost in Translation

It seems that my (formerly excellent) math skills are failing me in this country.

I mean- how hard should it be?

Take a 1.6 million shekel price for an apartment in Yerushalayim, divide by the current exchange rate (according to Janglo, today's is 3.81 shekels to 1 dollar), and shazaam- correct price in dollars. What could be so hard?

Well- I didn't factor in the critical point. The human factor.

Israelis love to bargain, and they love to get the best price. So, whether or not the exchange rate says it's 3.81, it might be according to 4, or 3.5, or that they make up a price in dollars that has nothing to do with the rate, but rather is based on their own idiosyncracies.

This applies as well to getting deals on almost everything- from shopping in Macheneh Yehuda- where you could bargain down the prices to almost half of what they originally asked for, to dealing with the phone company.

I know from my own experience, that if they offer you 60 shekel per month for 2 years, you could probably get them down to 43 shekel for a 6 month commitment period.

Nothing is as it seems.

I wish I was as good a bargainer and poker face/voice as some of my Israeli colleagues- I might even do better than what I've said already.

Some things are not negotiable- imagine me walking into Maayan 2000 and asking to bargain them down on several items. But most things are flexible- and as such, we have to roll with the punches, or end up getting lost in translation.


Bas~Melech said...

Based on "their own idiosyncrasies?" I always thought it was based on the perception that Americans are wealthy and gullible...


nmf #7 said...

Yeah- they definitely figure that one out fast, even with my fluent Ivrit.

Also- sometimes, if you catch them in a good mood, it'll be cheaper, or in a bad mood- and then they'll shrug you out of the store (Take it or leave it attitude.)

Oh- and Americans ARE wealthy compared to most of them- but in the US there is a higher standard of living, so Americans end up spending more as well. Ex- you need a car, you need insurance, school tuition....

I give tzedaka routinely- but in the US, I might hand out a dollar to a meshulach, while here in Israel- maybe a couple shekel...