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Monday, September 27, 2004

good news & bad news

Trust me when I say that there is some very convoluted rationalization involved in how I have come to consider my ‘good news’ good. And, trust me when I say that there is nothing whatsoever that can mitigate my bad news into anything less bad.

Today, as I was wrapping up some loose ends at work in preparation to leave, Zahava called to say she was having trouble with the stove. All the symptoms she was describing sounded like the gas was off, so I asked her to tell me the position of the cut-off switch (on), and to test whether the oven worked (nope).

Hmmmm.

Next I asked her to go out and try lighting our gas grill. When we moved in, I had the gas company run a gas line out to the front garden so I would never again have to deal with the hassle of refilling a BBQ tank. My Weber has been humming along nicely ever since… that is, until today.

You guessed it… the gas was definitely turned off.

Lest anyone think that we are down on our luck and eating government cheese (do they even have that here???), all of our utilities are automatically billed to our credit card (a fairly common practice here) and our bank/credit card balance is solidly in the black (a fairly UNcommon practice here).

Again, hmmmm.

Even though it was already after business hours, I ended up speaking with a representative from the gas company; a perfectly lovely young woman.

It turns out that even though we have had an account with them for over a year now, for some reason their computerized billing system had not requested payment from our credit card for the last 6 months... and it seems they had just noticed today.

This went beyond hmmmm, and into WTF…as in Who’s The Florist you're gonna call to send apology flowers to a customer when your screwed-up billing system shuts off their gas 3 days before a big holiday (Sukkot)?!

The nice rep and her supervisor at first had indicated that it might be several days before they could have the gas back on. But once the extent of their error was obvious (it turns out that someone had changed our last name in the system so it no longer matched our credit card or ID number), they asked me to hold on.

Coming back on the line about 5 minutes later, the supervisor said that the gas technician actually lived in our town and that they had tried to reach him (so he could come over after dinner to turn the gas back on). Unfortunately, the technician’s wife said he was out running pre-holiday errands for her and wouldn’t be home until late. She (via the customer service rep and the supervisor) wanted to know if it would it be OK if he stopped by tomorrow morning instead?

Only in Israel would a gas company’s customer service rep and her supervisor relay messages between a customer and a technician’s wife!

And since this was a small inconvenience in the grand scheme of things, I feel comfortable putting it firmly in the ‘good news’ column because of the outcome (and the odd way at which it was arrived).

The bad news, however, is that my car (recently given the moniker ‘Birdslayer') has taken a big step up the food chain.

On the way home from work I hit a dog.

To understand how horrible this was for me you have to understand what it means to be a ‘dog person’.

I grew up with dogs. I have always been the one, even in a family of ‘dog people’, who had the most intimate relationships with our pets. I babied them and talked to them… I scratched their bellies in just the right spot and I let them gently take food from my lips.

At the dinner table when I cut a big loaf of challah, the first piece doesn’t go to me, my wife or even one of our children. The first piece always goes to our dog. Jewish law dictates that one’s animals should be fed before you eat… but the truth is I would give our dog the first piece in any event.

So when I rounded a sharp turn near one of the Arab villages I pass on my commute and my headlights picked out a feral dog directly in my path… a small part of me almost turned the car into the stone wall along the side of the road rather than hit the dog. G-d forgive me, but those were my choices and I don’t know if I made the right one.

I won’t pretend that in that split second I was able to contemplate my choices rationally and consciously pick one over the other. But I wonder at my instincts that assigned more inherent value to the material worth of my car than to the life of a highly intelligent animal.

Immediately after the horrible double thump of the wheels informed me of the consequences of my 'choice', I realized there was no way I could even stop to check on the animal.

To stop my car 100 yards from an Arab village after dark would have been madness. Even if I would have been that stupid, what could I have done? Even the small measure of mercy that my pistol might have offered a suffering animal was beyond consideration. Both the Arabs in the village and the soldiers at the not-too-distant checkpoint would misinterpret the shot. There was truly nothing I could do!

And so I continued driving through the moonlit hills, sick with guilt… to a home where the ‘good news’ is we have no gas.

Posted by David Bogner on September 27, 2004 | Permalink

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Wish I could be some comfort, but all I can offer is empathy ... give your dog an extra-big hug tomight.

Posted by: Andy Levy-Stevenson | Sep 27, 2004 8:17:44 AM

As a dog person myself, I feel your pain. Let's hope that doggy is up in a better place now, in doggy heaven, and whichever family lost him, gets a new dog to love soon.

Posted by: Noa | Sep 27, 2004 12:26:33 PM

Under the "good news" heading – we have gas again! ;-)

Posted by: zahava | Sep 27, 2004 12:47:34 PM

Andy... I could barely face my dog last night. I felt like such doggie-murdurer!

Noa... Becasue it had happened outside a village, I had sort of made my peace with the fact that it was probably a feral/stray dog. But now that you bring up the likelyhood that some little Arab child is sitting at home right now crying his/her eyes out over the family pet... I feel like a total dirtbag! Thanks so much! [don't worry, I'm just giving you a hard time. The thought occured to me long before you posted your message... I'm just venting].

Zahava... At least that's good news. Now I have to wait to hear what the Shamai (adjuster) from the insurance company has to say about the front of the car [cringe].

Posted by: David | Sep 27, 2004 1:01:56 PM

I don't have the words. Extra hugs to Jordan.

I'm glad you didn't stop, tho. Or hit the wall.

Posted by: Tanya | Sep 27, 2004 5:01:52 PM

David, you could not have chosen any other way.

Your life and consideration for your family far outweighed the dog's life. Not to belittle it, because goodness knows dogs have a right to life as well. But things happen for a reason, I think.

I'm sure the poor thing did not suffer long at all. Your guilt and remorse are understandable. I'd have felt the same way- but still made the same choice you did.

*hugs*

Posted by: Lachlan | Sep 27, 2004 5:37:56 PM

David,

You did the right thing, mate. Absolve yourself.

Posted by: Jim | Sep 27, 2004 6:25:35 PM

I am a David person...I'm sorry for the dog it's no contest for me.

I have some nice recipes for cold dishes.

Posted by: Marjorie | Sep 28, 2004 2:40:13 AM


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