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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Things that are weird in Israel #5: Doorknobs

Put up your hand if you loooooove doorknobs!  What, no hands up?  What, you’ve never thought about doorknobs and how much you appreciate having them in your life?

You will if you come here. 

Mwa ha ha ha ha.

In fact, the title of this post is wrong:  there are almost no doorknobs here.  I saw one the other week and got all excited until I realized it was just a “dummy” – it didn’t actually turn or do anything.

imageThe truth is, if I was so inclined, I would have called this post “Things that suck in Israel.”  Because the alternative to the doorknob is… the door handle.  And I have never, ever met one here that works.

Apparently, nobody has found a good way to keep the handle part ATTACHED  to the door.  You’d think they’d have solved this early on, but no.

And that means that every single handle I have ever encountered here is somewhere along the inexorable process of falling off.

Why is this???

It’s not like the doorknob hasn’t been invented yet! 

It’s not like we’re living in some time a bazillion years ago, sitting around in our caves, wishing there was some way to close the door and then open it again. 

We already have such a thing… and it is called a doorknob.  And with the exception of a few in our old house in Toronto, it works quite, quite well, thank you very much.

In the merkaz klitah, our neighbours across the hall had a door handle so ornery that every few days when they went out, we’d all be startled inside our apartment by the distinctive CLANG of their door handle hitting the floor.  It always happens when you’re going out – you give the door a good tug behind you and – CLANG! – the handle on the other side, inside the apartment, falls off.  Ours wasn’t much better, but Akiva happens to be handy with an allen key, which generally kept ours from suffering the same fate.

imageThis morning, the  one on our bathroom door called it quits after a month of suffering our rough treatment (by which I mean going in and out of the bathroom and sometimes wanting privacy in there). 

It had been sort of hanging by a “thread” anyway – albeit a sturdy thread made of steel.  This morning, with a nudge from GZ, it sheared, leaving us with an empty hole where the knob had been.

(Yes, every bathroom, even newer ones, has these weird old-fashioned keyholes, too!)

Fortunately, the kit to replace the door handle is cheap – which is probably why they fall apart in the first place, but I don’t want to think about that.

IMG_00004015

The bigger lesson here:  nothing makes you nostalgic like the little things, like doorknobs.  In the face of big obstacles – learning a language! navigating government bureaucracy! – I’m totally okay.  While stuff like this can sometimes bring me to the point of tears.

coffee from sara

And that’s when it’s incredible to open up the mailbox and find a whole envelope with something like a BAZILLION packets of instant Starbucks coffee, a belated birthday present from my sister. 

Sometimes, the little things we take for granted – doorknobs, coffee – are the ones that disturb us most when they’re yanked out from beneath us.

So maybe that’s the “take away”?  That the doorknobs suck but the postal service here isn’t bad?

It’s true, at least.  The coffee came in only SIX DAYS, and only cost her $11 to mail (about what you’d spend on two cups of fancy Starbucks coffee).  Family isn’t so far away that you can’t count the packets and know that only a week ago they were in the hands of someone I love very much.

The little things can bring you to the edge… but other little things can bring you BACK from the edge to face the possibility that you may survive this adventure, after all.

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