LIFE IN THE MUDDLE EAST- SAVING THE PLANET CAN MAKE YOU ENVIRONMENTALLY UNFRIENDLYCategory: Israel Issue No. 172
HAVING the surname Green carries with it a great deal of responsibility. Apart from its being quite colorful, it also has conservation connotations.
I don’t know if we’re more environmentally aware, but my wife and I do try to do our bit when it comes to putting newspapers in the proper bins and old plastic lemonade bottles in those street cages. It’s our duty to try to save the planet.
In my native UK, a national Jewish charity has a Green Sunday once a year, on which day they phone people and ask for donations. The money then comes to Israel to irrigate inhospitable tracts of land which eventually become habitable.
On that particular day, my mother received a phone call from them.
When I saw her a day or so later, she told me about it and added: “It must be a bit limiting.” “In what way?” I asked. “Well,” she replied in all earnestness, “they’re ringing up people whose surnames are Green. There can’t be that many Jewish people called Green in a city this size.”
I had to marvel at her thought processes on that one.
Meanwhile, this small country of ours seems to be doing its bit in its elimination of paper.
Our phone bill comes on email, as do our electricity and internet bills. It’s only I who spoils the entire process by printing out the PDFs.
But the other day we thought we’d go even more green, this time by getting one of those shiny plastic travel cards you can use on the trains and buses instead of scrambling about in pocket or handbag for change and only ever coming up with a NIS 200 note.
There was a stand at a railway station one evening, and as it wasn’t particularly busy, I thought I’d find out a bit more about the scheme.
So I engaged the charming, elderly man who was manning it and he explained how it worked. “But I’ve still got some tickets in my wallet,” I said at the end of the mini-lecture. “It doesn’t matter. You can get your card now and buy tickets whenever you want.”
So we went ahead.
While he was writing down our details, he asked: “How long have you been living in Israel, David?” David, who’s David, I thought, turning round to see if we’d been joined by someone else.
I was about to correct him, when he repeated the question, this time louder: “For how long have you been in Israel?” I forgot all about ‘David’ and concentrated on my answer.
“Why did you want to come and live here? It’s a very difficult country.”
“It’s been OK so far,” I told him.
He then asked me to sit down while he took a photo. He began processing again, clicking away on his Think Pad.
Eventually the card plopped out of his whirring machine. Smiling, he held it up and said: “Here you are, David.”
I looked at the back of it, and although my Hebrew isn’t what it should be, I could tell it said David and not Anthony.
“I’m not David,” I told him, “that was my father.” He’d obviously copied the wrong name from my ID card.
So he did it again. No good. And again. Another failure.
“Mmm,” he mumbled. “We seem to have a problem.” We? No, you, sunshine.
I envisaged a scenario in which for the rest of my life I would never be able to have one of these cards because of this stupid error.
Perhaps I’d have to change my name by deed poll to David. I know I look like my late father, now I’ll have the same name.
He began writing again. “I see you’re left-handed, like me,” I said, trying to make light of it all.
“Let me tell you, left-handed people are very intelligent,” he replied. In the situation we were in, I’d have only half agreed with him.
“Ah, we’ve got it,” he suddenly said, producing a card with my name on it.
It was then my wife Teresa’s turn to get herself one.
He took her ID card, looked at it and said: “So you want one too, Hadassah?”
This was going to take longer than I thought, and even with the name Green I was about to get environmentally unfriendly.