How I Accidentally Threw Away The Electric Bill

This is such a typical new olah (immigrant) story but I still can’t believe it. I have kept this secret for so long in fear of what those ex-roommates of mine would say, but hey, I am not in touch with a single one of them now, so I guess it won’t be harmful to come clean.

There is a huge culture shock when you move to a new country and especially in Israel it just is …traumatic. You realize that things you knew how to do (pay bills, go to the bank, make phone calls) are now ten times harder because there is this whole new language that you can barely speak and only learned the ancient version of it in school.

For real, Biblical Hebrew is such a mystery. Some words have entered into everyday Hebrew, and some are so ancient that nobody uses them. For example, there is an ancient word for “bug” that I can only remember when speaking to people, and it is very confusing for them. I guess it’s like using a weird Shakespearean term and expecting to be understood. So my conversations would go something like this:

Exterminator: Hello

Me: Hello! I need help putting away a spectre bugbear in my home.

Exterminator: What.

Me: Um. It’s like a snake but with legs.

Exterminator: *hangs up*

Anyway, a big issue that I had to face when moving to Israel was paying bills. Because damn what are any of those words? I learned in Ulpan how to order tickets, book a flight, and order at a restaurant, but there needs to be a course to learn how to read/pay a bill.

On top of this, the electricity bills here have cartoon characters on them. That look like Bert and Ernie. Does it make it more appealing for the children who are not paying the bills?

To me, it just looked like some weird junk mail ad for a summer camp.

So, I dumped it. Along with the other random junk mail our mailbox was filled with. I’m sure in Hebrew it had “Electric Bill” on it and other important helpful words, but I didn’t bother reading it.

Again. Bert and Ernie. On a colorful envelope.

I wish I could get an explanation from the electric company why they have mascots.

Anyway, after a month, someone else got the mail (I had 3 other roommates at the time) and including in our monthly electric bill was a fine for not paying last month’s bill.

“Did we ever get an electric bill?” asked one of my roommates who spoke four languages and was studying mechanical engineering.

“I don’t think so,” said another roommate whom all I knew about her was that she had an annoying boyfriend who “came to visit for breakfast” and there was “no way he was sleeping over” every night.

I remained silent. I never told them I had accidentally threw away the bill. I assume we could have called and claimed we never got the bill and got the fine waived, but as we were four girls studying and working, I don’t think anyone had the mental energy to do so.

Anyway, now I pay my electric bill online and it is much simpler and has no weird cartoons in it.

Suddenly they have a baby?? Are they a couple???




English teacher by trade, story writer for fun

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Alana Schwartz

Alana Schwartz

English teacher by trade, story writer for fun

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