Eretz Yisrael Time

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Monday, May 15, 2006
Sometimes you encounter an experience that just shakes you to your core.

I would personally never begrudge the super-rich, after all, I would like to be super-rich too (please, no sameach b’chelko comments).

And of course, I’m sure they have their problems too.

But I just never really expected to learn that we could possibly share some of the same problems when it comes to money.

It happened like this.

The Settler Gang left the Settlement today for work and family and this evening we went out to a fast food joint for a bite to eat.

Walking in, we were a bit overwhelmed by the loud obnoxious noises and music of a children’s birthday party being run in the midst of the restaurant, clown and all (and a pony too). But hey, it’s a fast food place that encourages it (the pony was outside), so who am I too complain.

But what was interesting was that the party-makers were acquaintances of the wife.

They also happened to be one of the richest families in Israel (no, I won’t say which).

At the end of the party it came time to settle the bill.

The guests (family members only) had been ordering freely left and right (big chips aka Freedom Fries, little chips, burgers, etc.) and the manager was keeping track of everything that was ordered.

I sat there in amazement as the junior Matriachs argued with the manager over the exact bill; whether some people ordered the big chips, or the little chips, and how some people may have ordered a burger which meant chips were included (this is also after the manager gave out free gifts to all the kids).

The difference could not have come to more than 50 shekels for all 20 guests (plus children). But yet, here were people that make hundreds of dollars a minute (and I’m not kidding) arguing for 20 minutes over a few bags of French Fries.

The staff looked on in horror at this attitude (they didn’t even know who their guests were), as they were the ones constantly taking the orders and now had to clean up the mess that was left behind (and from where I was sitting, the manager seemed right).

Mrs. Settler clamped her hand over my mouth as I started to yell out “It’s chips, not  damn it”. I guess she feels she has to maintain friendly relations for the families’ sake.

Afterwards I told this story to some “blue collar” friends and they told me some stories of how they go in and do honest labor at market rates and then find the super-rich clients trying to shill them for a few shekels here and a few shekels there.

Go figure. Maybe that’s how they got rich in the first place. But French Fries!!!


westbankmama said...

I can't believe this is the first time you have encountered this. Any professional shnorer (and I am not one of them, but I know some) will tell you that the less people have, the more generous they are with their tzedaka (with exceptions, of course). And yes, you are right - this is the way they get rich in the first place (and it is by no means just by the Jews...)

Rafi G. said...

I have always found that such behavior is much more common among the righ than the middle class or poor. Rich people are often much tighter with their money and try to cut corners everywhere possible (when paying, not when ordering), in any service or product they are ordering..

Truth said...

WBM - no it's not the way they get rich in the first place, and I would avoid listening to whatever someone who's a 'professional schnorrer' has to say about anything...

Since I myself happen to be 'up to my nose' in super-rich persons (in various milieus) I can describe this in a bit more detail:

There are several types of the 'super rich'.

1) Inherited money
2) Worked hard for it (to the exclusion of most anything else)
3) 'Got Lucky' (right-place at the right-time kind of thing)
4) Stole it

(Category '1' is a subtype of the other categories, depending upon how the progenitors aquired their hoard).

Now, we have amongst those types, the 'selfish' [snobby-snotty] type, and we have the 'generous' type.

Nor do we presume that a 'super rich' has any more 'class' than anyone else.

The bottom line is, super rich only have one thing that they have more of than anyone else - and it tends to be money.

However, don't be mislead, they might own half a billion dollars of real estate, for example, but 499 million of it is mortgaged... And what happens when their cash-flow dwindles? At least the gas-station attendant will never experience the thrill of 'the bank has a problem' [as in, 'when you owe the bank 10,000 dollars, you have a problem, when you owe them 10 million, they have the problem]...

JoeSettler said...

I know some incredibly nice Super-rich in the States and they aren't miserly with their money nor in how they treat staff workers. In fact one of the nicest people I know is one of the SuperRich.
(And I also know other rich people that are jerks)

So I can't really stereotype them more than anyone else.

What shocked me here though is that we really are talking about one of the richest families in Israel and the amount they were trying to "save" couldn't have been more than 50 shekels. It was petty, disgusting, and certainly rude after all the noise and mess they made, not to mention the disturbance to the other customers (like me).

Anonymous said...

in israel i noticed that no matter who, everyone is convinced that everyone is trying to screw the other one out of money. bargaining in israel so commonplace, i am suprised i never heard anybody arguing with egged drivers!!! i personally dont bargain in israel unless i know somebody is taking advantage of me [normally cab drivers that realize i dont speak hebrew with an israel accent]. :)

Truth said...

daniel: in israel i noticed that no matter who, everyone is convinced that everyone is trying to screw the other one out of money. bargaining in israel so commonplace, i am suprised i never heard anybody arguing with egged drivers!!! i personally dont bargain in israel unless i know somebody is taking advantage of me [normally cab drivers that realize i dont speak hebrew with an israel accent]. :)

That's not nice, or right, it's just slander.

For example, many a time I've gone to many different kinds of stores and offered to pay in cash instead of credit card for a 3% discount (that's the general amount the credit card companies charge the store for each transaction), and once the owner got the idea, he/she didn't mind one bit and gave me the discount (usually 5-10% for some reason).

It's really a matter of mentality/attitude, maybe if YOU stopped being convinced that 'everyone is trying to screw the other one out of money', you could see it.

Also, Jewish cab drivers can be very nice, but if you seem to act as if they were a turd (with that aggravating accent, to boot), obviously they're going to try to make it worth their while to suffer your presence in their cab...

Speaking of accents, that Israel-reporter dude who gets all that video coverage of regime actions against 'settlers'/'settlements' sounds atrocious in (bad) Hebrew, and I'm constantly suprised some thug cop doesn't bop him because of the crime he commits against our lovely and sacred tongue :-)

Ben Bayit said...

Have you ever tried collecting money for a Vaad Bayit in Israel? I promise you that the people that overpaid for their apartment and wouldn't blink twice if the mortgage bank added 300 NIS a year to the home insurance bill, are the one who will quibble about an extra 20 NIS annually for some expense or another.

tafka PP said...

C'mon, Truth... Daniel is within his rights and then some: Been down Ben Yehuda lately? Seen all the signs welcoming "Brave Tourists" into shops with hiked-up prices? Or ever tried to catch a cab for over tourist season?

JoeSettler said...

I have to agree with tafka pp and daniel.

I been ripped off far too much money this month by different Israelis.

When it comes to taxi drivers, I don't want to sound racist, but I prefer Arab taxi drivers. (Does that sound racist?)

Except for getting nearly kidnapped once and taken to Ramallah (many years ago), I have never ever been ripped off by any Arab taxi driver, and I always find them much more polite even though they usually don't know their way around.

Even the attempted kidnapper was polite, but then again he saw the knife I pulled out when he started down into the (very) wrong neighborhood.

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