Some respect for the dead

Today, Sept. 21, is my father's 8th yahrzeit. I'm collecting a few pictures of him which I will take with me when going to visit my mother in hospital. We'll sit and reminisce about him. Nachum (Normi) Rimon was a very nice guy, a good father, had a wonderful sense of humor, and is partly responsible for my mixed-up American-Canadian-nondescript accent. My mother says "envelope", pronouncing the en as in "entertain"; my father used to say "onvelope", pronouncing the en like in French, as in "en route". When asked a question calling for his opinion, my father often began with the preamble "Well, I'll tell ya…, " Only on my recent visits to Canada, upon hearing my dad's sister use the same expression, did it occur to me that it's a Canadian thing. (What say you guys – is it?)

At bedtime, my mother used to sit beside me and read to me from A.A. Milne, Anna Sewell, Mother Goose, Golden Books, and many more. My mother, a stage and film actress, has excellent diction and delivery that made the stories all the more compelling. My father used to sit beside me at bedtime and answer my questions about Life, the Universe and Everything. He didn't have all the answers, of course; but he always encouraged me to ask, to question, to apply critical thinking. Some would say, to criticize :-)

Ever since my only sister, Evelyn Lucy Rimon, died in a car accident (February 1984), I've been a compulsive reader of car accident reports. Perhaps to remind myself that what happened to my sister, to my family, is not at all unusual and in fact happens every day to someone, somewhere. My sister died in Van Nuys, CA -- where she was living at the time -- on her way back from the graveyard shift at Something Reservations where she worked as shift supervisor. Some stupid moron (pardon the language, I'm still mad at him) in a truck either fell asleep at the wheel or was drunk, swerved out of his lane and crashed into her car head on. As my dad used to say by way of slight comfort, the poor kid probably never knew what hit her.
I don't have the obituary handy, but I do recall the Jerusalem Post managed to make a mistake in it. And I was reminded of this over my breakfast coffee, as I scanned the News in Brief section on page 3, as is my wont, and saw the following, under "Two dead in road accidents":
"In the early morning, one of two young men seriously injured in a three-car traffic accident on the Ayalon highway, near the JNF interchange, died from his injuries."
Excuse me. Ayalon does not have a JNF interchange. It has a Keren Kayemet interchange. See Yes, I know KKL translates as JNF. Still, this is not what the interchange is called or known as.
This might seem trivial to most readers. But not to me. Not as a translator, not as an editor, and certainly not as someone who has lost her sister in a car crash. I want the facts to be recorded accurately. Go do me something.

Sorry I missed the ITA AGM & Lecture

I really meant to go. I signed up (at least I think I did!) and was looking forward to it. But by late afternoon, after hours at Ichilov, I couldn't face it.
No sooner did we get used to the routine in Rehab, when an infection required that Mom undergo surgery -- a procedure called debridement ("hatraya" in Hebrew), explained to us by an adorable nurse named Monica, in fluent English, no less!) and we're back to Square One (well, nearly) in the Russian-dominated Orthopedics Department.
I kissed my mom and her sweet Filipina care-giver, and once again negotiated the endless corridors, stairwells and escalators in order to find my car and drive off into the congested Ayalon traffic.
But guess what? after a whole month of walking and inspecting those corridors, I finally found something!!! On floor -2, across the hall from the operating theaters, there's a place for families to "hang out", or hang out to dry. The sign says:

Waiting Room

I assume they mean "a waiting room for adults", though I'm sure I didn't see a separate waiting room for kids… Nor do I think they meant that the waiting room itself is "adult", as opposed to what, a juvenile waiting room?... Or perhaps it's the waiting room for relatives of adults undergoing surgery, while children's surgery and waiting rooms are elsewhere.
Still, if this is the worst I could find, linguistically speaking, someone at Ichilov deserves a medal!

Stranger in My Own Land

Say you're in a foreign country. Business or pleasure, no matter. You go to a hairdresser, or worse – a dentist or a doctor, because you have no choice, it's something that won't wait until you get back home. The person taking care of you knows some English – enough for you to explain what's the matter, what you need. He or she nods and sets to work. Then he and his colleagues start babbling in their own language and don't stop until the moment has come for you to get up, pay, and continue on your way. You have no idea what they're on about. They talk animatedly, totally engrossed in their chat. Their hands do what they're supposed to, be it clipping your hair or filling the cavity in your tooth; but the rest of them just isn't there. You don't know if they're discussing last night's date, a TV show, the political situation, the style of your clothes or the color of your skin.

Sounds familiar?

This happens to me very often, in my own country, Israel. And the language spoken all around me is – you guessed it – Russian.

I can't blame the Russian speakers. People automatically revert to their mother tongue whenever possible. Why on earth should the dentist and his assistant break their heads trying to speak Hebrew for my sake, when they can pass the time and prattle comfortably in their native tongue?

As I mentioned in my previous post, I have been spending much time in the freezing cold corridors and rooms of Ichilov hospital. Actually, my mother has been transferred to the Rehab wing of the hospital, in case you're interested. That's the good news. The bad news, linguistically speaking, is that the situation here isn't any better. The nurses and "koach ezer" (auxiliary staff?) at the nurses' station, in the dining room, in the corridors and bedrooms, for the most part speak Russian. Yes, occasionally – when they absolutely must – they address my mother or me in Hebrew. A few of them make an effort and say a few sentences in English. But most of the time, we are completely left out. We're the foreigners. We don't understand the local idiom.
When this happens at the hairdresser's or at the supermarket, it may be unpleasant, but it's not that bad. However, when you're hospitalized and feeling vulnerable, dependent, anxious – it's far worse.

I can bring you a note from my mother

My colleague P., who had not written in his blog for about 2 months, picked up the thread with an apology and an explanation for his long absence: he was busy with his exams. For P's sake, I hope that he has ardent followers who really missed his blog, accepted his apology and explanation, and were delighted to read him again.

As for me, I have two excuses, or explanations, for my longish silence:
1. I had nothing interesting to write about
2. I've been dealing with a family crisis – Mom (90+) is in hospital with a broken hip. I can provide you with a note from her, or from one of her friendly orthopedic surgeons; I like Dr. Shapira best, he has incredibly good bedside manners! I suspect he studied abroad; perhaps on the set of E.R. or some such place, where doctors are so sympathetic, understanding, caring, and always have time to actually talk to the patients and their families.

Of the two explanations above, #1 is actually the more inexplicable and disturbing. Weeks go by, and I have nothing to complain about? How is that possible?! Has everyone started writing perfect Hebrew/English, or have I stopped reading, lost my critical skills, or what? I've been roaming the corridors of Ichilov hospital, a.k.a. Sourasky Medical Center, for over two weeks now, and haven't yet seen anything worth reporting to you folks. Not one misspelled sign or awkwardly phrased notice. Weird.

The good ol' J. Post and the local weeklies, of course, continued to supply me with "material", but it's all such petty stuff. For instance:

1. In honor of the new school year, the Gal-Gefen weekly carried a full page color ad for what the advertiser calls Israel's largest tiks portal… I kid you not: .

2. Danone wants to convince you all to eat more of its health-promoting yogurt. So first they place a plain text ad that looks purely informative. In this ad they manage to spell their product both "yogurt" and "yoghurt" within the same line; they claim that their product contains – get this – bio-bacteria (er, as opposed to what other kind of bacteria?...) and invent a fancy, scientifically-sounding name for it. Then they follow up with a huge color ad, with English text that is painfully translated from the Hebrew: "I have a terrible 'balagan' in my stomach, I feel so bloated…", complains Girl in White; "I felt the same until I tried Activia…" chirps Girl in Blue.
I agree that an Israeli English speaker may indeed say something like that. And since the target audience is us English-speaking Israelis, maybe this Heblish is fine. Maybe.
Forgetting about the Heblish, I always get upset by the way the gullible public drinks in the dairies' pretentious claims about their "special" products with their "special" bacteria.

3. And last for today, before I rush off to visit Mom in Ichilov: The J. Post, in its Classifieds section, carried the most amusingly written ad today, and I quote, verbatim:

We are looking for job seekers that
will server as our representatives
and receive money from our clients
abroad which will be earning 10%
Of the amount received every week.
(Average Income Every
Week $1,200)
If you are Interested, Get back to me
with the below information's (Full Name
+ address, Tel. number, Sex, E-mail,
Occupation) and respond to this email address