Monday, May 25, 2009

Corporate hijinx

(This article was translated from a Hebrew comedy sketch written by comedian Barak Kesar about working at the above major high tech company.)

Look at what we’ve come to…
Look at the cleaning lady, hanging around with an “I will always have a job because there will always be dust” face. Just wait until the soap bubble you’ve been living in bursts; let’s see how you deal when the prices of bleach go up.
Now we’re down to 4 work days…

On Sunday morning my little boy picked up the phone and called the kindergarten teacher to tell her he’s not coming.
Teacher: “Why?”
Son: “Couldn’t find an arrangement for Dad. At least I managed to send Mom off to the mall.”

At first it’s confusing, you don’t know if it’s Saturday or Sunday. The only way of checking is the oven. If there’s a pot of jachnun in there, it’s Saturday.
And if we’re canceling days, why Sunday? Why not Thursday, save us the expenses of the Shabbat dinner while we’re at it.

Things are rough everywhere, not just in high tech.

The beggar at the intersection told me that due to the crisis he’s been forced to increase his work week to 8 work days.
If we were factory workers, we’d at least see some action, lock the gates, burn some tires. In high tech, what’s there to do? Burn the DiskOnKey? Block the entrance? Most of us work from home anyway.

Ever since the “It’ll be OK” commercial for Bank Leumi has been on the air, I’ve been panicking, hysterically! There’s nothing more terrifying than an Israeli telling you “don’t worry, it’ll be ok”.
There are lots of people out there looking for jobs with Bachelor’s degrees, Master’s degrees, 10 years of experience, but between us, there’s only one thing anyone needs to work for my company: an Indian citizenship.

Heartbreaking to see everything going over to India. I hope the financial tsunami doesn’t get there. Personally I prefer to hope that a real tsunami gets them, the one with the waves, the jellyfish, the Thai people.
It’s like in Thailand you see all the good farmers run away to Israel, or the Chinese who don’t have any more construction workers left because they’re all here.
And not only do they take our jobs, they also make sure to mess with our future generation’s brains as they go to Goa after the army, only to come back in a dolphin-like state.

Sometimes I feel like going there and opening an El Gaucho restaurant, on purpose, with a picture of a cow spinning on a shawarma skewer.

My company has creative methods to increase efficiency.

In order to get you to arrive earlier to work, they lower the number of yogurt cups in the kitchenettes. If only they knew how much valuable time I waste by chasing the last yogurt cup instead of working…

If you get to work at 9:00, you’re done for. There’s no chance you’ll find yogurt. At 8:30 you stand a shot, but that includes frantically running through all the kitchenettes on all floors.
And it’s not just the yogurt, it’s the bread rolls too. A few years ago they’d give us sandwich rolls, then they cut down on roll size, then they just brought in empty rolls. Tomorrow they’ll give us flour, water and a recipe.

And at lunch? There’s a million conditions: if you took a cold meal ticket, you’re entitled to a salad but not to dessert or a hot side dish, and God forbid you should also take a soup.
In general, cold meal eaters have an identification mark – the special tray. You have a special tray – then… No Soup For YOU! Wait – what if it’s a cold soup? Does that count as a cold meal?!
Since the food reforms I’ve been continuously paranoid. I keep imagining the caterer yelling at me through a microphone: “Company inhabitants, you are in the dining room, please act accordingly.”

Yesterday I was caught red-handed… with a cold tray… and a lukewarm chicken. Fortunately, I had stuffed the rice in my pocket. Is it me, or do they have to put in less effort for food in Survivor?

Now they’ve put a limit on mileage too. They’ve installed a green box in the car, sort of like a black box on a plane. (By the way, if the black box is made of material that is crash-proof, why not make the entire plane out of the same material?)

There are new stickers on the back windshield. Instead of “How’s my driving? Dial…”, it’s now “Am I driving? Dial…”

Today my company’s name is synonymous with “feel sorry for me”.

Every time an article comes out about another round of dismissals at the company, there’s an obligatory scene with the neighbors.
The neighbor comes over, feeling out the vibe: “Hey man, is everything ok? I’m not used to seeing you at 8 o’clock in the morning. What happened? Didn’t feel like going to work today, or they didn’t feel like having you come in?” Or- “I’m sending you something to your work email account, are you still checking it?”

A second neighbor: “Oh man, I saw the company sticker on your car, I didn’t know you worked there… If you need anything, I know someone at JobMaster, I can get you a good price for the subscription fee and you’ll pay the first installment only after getting fired.”

I’m waiting at a red light, in the car next to me is some guy from a competitor – now there is some sort of covert discussion with those standing next to you at the traffic light – he gives me the look of an Indonesian watching the tsunami hit Thailand, a look of “I survived, good luck to you.” The guys from that company have already taken over all the staircases in all the buildings, without leaving us any places to clean.

I come in to work, the hallways are empty, no one dares to walk around. If someone says Shalom to me, I start to think: “Wait a minute- was that his final farewell? What can I take from his office?”

Or maybe it will be he who’ll say sometime later: “I can’t believe it, I only said Shalom to him this morning.”
And in general, whenever more than two people are looking at you as you’re walking through the corridor, they probably know something. And every conversation starts with “Have you heard who”?

“Have you heard who got fired? Shimshon, the guy walking around here earlier with the yogurt.”
“You don’t say, wait… he had yogurt?! Which room is he in?”
The ways of notifying people have grown sophisticated too.

One guy was asked whether he’d opened the “Mamon” (business) paper on Saturday. He answered: “No. Why”? They told him: “You should, they’ve got some good classifieds in there…”
There was one VP who was really nervous before “the talk”.
“We’ve called you in to let you know that we’ve arranged an office for you.”
“An office in the corner building?”
“Close, the unemployment office.”

I heard one guy who was told: “Listen, if they call you from “Big Brother” or “Survivor” and ask you to participate in their next season, tell them you’re available.”
Women, however- are covered.

Once, when there were wars, you’d know that after 9 months there’d be an increase in the number of births. Now, it’s the same thing. Every round of dismissals triggers a baby boom.
There’ll be a song about it in a few years: “We are the children of the high tech crisis 2009”.
Pregnancy. Your anti-dismissal pill. 100% proven success rate.

In a few years the kid will ask you:
“Mommy, did I come into the world by mistake?”
And you’ll answer, “No honey, Mommy was on the chopping block at work”
“And my seven brothers and sisters?”
“What can I say honey, they had my number, I had to dodge the boot quite a bit.”

Today, getting pregnant is like getting immunity.
Even a single woman I know pulled out a positive pregnancy test stick and shoved it in my face. I told her: “Saral’e? You’re religious!”
She told me: “I did a Shabbat at the kolel, everything included, the Rabbi said that all means are kosher.”

There are also the fakers. One woman comes in for the talk with a huge belly.
“What’s that”? They asked her.
“Pregnancy!” she answered.
“From whom? (bedding maker) The “Fried Brothers”?
“No, why?” she asked.
“Because the corridor is covered in goose feathers, you have a hole in your pillow.”

A friend of mine told me that his wife won’t let him sleep! “I have to get pregnant, I have to get pregnant”. Eventually, he ended up getting fired for coming to work exhausted.
I said to him: “you should have told me, we could have done shifts. What does it matter, pregnancy is pregnancy.”

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Jews on the Moon (a fable) by Janet S. Tiger

One of the great traits of us Israelis (and Jews in general) is our talent to survive. The Greeks, the Romans, the Incas, the Aztecs - they came and went. I got from my friend Martin the following fable, and didn't know who wrote it. The author Janet S. Tiger contacted me, so I can properly credit her. Janet, chapeau! And now the fun starts.....

The Jews settled the moon in 2053, just about five years after the end of the Islamic Wars of the 40's, where the Middle East, and Israel, of course, had been obliterated by nuclear weapons.

The two million Jews remaining throughout the rest of the world - less than 100,000 total in all the Islamic countries - banded together and purchased the dark side of the moon, which no other companies or people wished to colonize. Great transports were arranged via the 62,000 mile space elevator and the Space Shuttle and every Jew on Earth - including anyone who claimed any Jewish heritage whatsoever - left to go to a place where no one could blame them for anything.
The Earth rejoiced - happily rid of all Jews. There were huge parties throughout all of Sweden and the rest of Europe, Africa, Asia, South America, and North America. (Now known as the Northern Alliance of Islamic States after the United States was taken over peacefully in the elections of 2040 by a predominantly Muslim Congress and President, who immediately passed amendments making Islam the main religion of the United States and the world.) After the last Jew entered the elevator, (a David Goldstein, 62, formerly of New York), the Earth was officially declared Judenrein, by Hans Ibn Hitler, a great, great-grandson of Hitler who had been raised in Brazil and hidden by Nazis until this precious moment.It was not an easy move for the Jews but, in some ways, it was no different than all their moves of previous eras.
Some former Israelis, (still alive because they were out of Israel when the bombs dropped), claimed that the moon was easier to deal with because there were no Extremist Muslims. Of course, this precipitated a huge argument with some Jews, who felt not having the Radical Muslims nearby was not enough challenge. Other Jews argued that taming a wilderness with no atmosphere, plant or animal life and freezing temperatures was enough challenge. And yet other Jews argued that arguing was counterproductive. It came as no surprise to anyone that for the two million Jews, there were eventually one million synagogues. (With the other million Jews not joining.)
It was also no surprise that within just three years, the Jews had created a controlled environment that allowed for fantastic plant and animal growth and production. The transports, which had been called the Arks, had also carried two of each animal and plant (remember, Noah), and through the ingenuity of the Jews and cloning, there were now many new species which sped up production of food (cows with six udders, chickens with four legs and so forth.)The population had rapidly increased and, due to the amazing collection of scientific and medical minds, most diseases and even aging had been reduced to nil.

There was even a ministry of communication with Earth consisting of the remains of Hollywood producers and movie makers, who sent back to Earth portraits of life on the moon. Of course, it had been decided when the Jews first got to the moon - based on six-thousand-year history of people being jealous of Jewish accomplishment - that all news coverage of the moon's population would be 'movie-ized' to show only horrible things. The film industry, led by Jordan Spielberg, went to great lengths to fabricate news clips to show Jews barely surviving in the harsh lunar habitat. Artists and engineers labored to cover over the vast environmental successes with illusionary domes showing massive areas of wasteland - just in case anyone from Earth ever sent a spaceship with cameras to see what was going on.
But no-one ever did, and the years passed rapidly. One decade, then another. Bar Mitzvahs, weddings, brises, all celebrated under the artificial world that the Jews had created - not only had it not been that bad, but by the end of the century, some Jewish authors were calling the moon colony - 'Eden 2'. Of course other Jews disagreed. In fact, much time was spent on disagreeing. There were even contests for arguing but, in general, there was peace. Anyone who threatened the peace was forced to officiate at a contest with people arguing about why that person was wrong. The contests would go on for days, (sometimes weeks) until the troublemaker begged for forgiveness. (Many penalties on the moon were similar to this, and were extremely effective.)

Back on Earth, life disintegrated without the Jews. There was a return to Middle Ages thought - only the current religion du jour was valid - all others were kept legislated into poverty until a war erupted and the positions changed for a few years.Another amazing anomaly appeared when there were no longer any Jews on Earth - anti-Semitism actually increased to monumental proportions! Famous orators explained this simply by saying; "I don't have to have a gun to be afraid of having my brains blown out." Additionally, without the presence of the Jew, the world developed incredible evil that had no release. (Previous evil had always focused on the Jews).
One Rabbi on the moon actually said G-d spoke to him and said that he, G-d was about to destroy the Earth because everyone on the Earth was evil. The Rabbi begged him to reconsider, and bargained that if there were 1,000 good people left on Earth, G-d should spare the planet. G-d then told the Rabbi, "Hey, I was through this before with Abraham and Noah and I already know the answer because I'm G-d."
People laughed at the Rabbi, but then, one day, while all the lunar citizens were going about their business, an enormous series of explosions was seen on the Earth. Everyone on the moon stared at the distant fireballs that seemed to engulf the blue planet that was once their home. Although there had been great anger at being forced to leave the Earth, the true spirit of Judaism was always present on the moon, and no one had wished ill on to their former home. As in the tradition of the Seder (when the wine is spilled because the Egyptians perished and we do not rejoice fully when even an enemy has died) when the Jews saw what was happening, they began to weep and pray, and watch what was to be the final news broadcast from Earth.
The horror of the apocalypse was videotaped by cameras until all electricity was ionized by the new electron bombs. Entire countries were wiped away in the blink of an ion exploding. And then came the final transmission from the nation that had started the entire mess - it was a desperate headline screamed by a hundred dying newscasters. Their rant continued until it was just blackness.
What were they saying? As the Jews watched, some gasped, others cried, and a few even laughed. For the last words of the disappearing civilization were a condemnation.
"The Jews have caused all our problems - they left us here to face the mess they made."
"If the Jews hadn't taken all the best scientists and engineers, we could have defeated our enemies."
"Our enemies are the Jews! Kill all the Jews."
It took a little while, but the electronics experts pieced together what had happened on Earth during its last days Anti-Semitism, which had grown stronger and stronger since the Jews had left, had reached its pinnacle, and all the countries of the world had decided to launch a massive attack on the moon.
The attack had been coordinated by the United Nations and, although all the missiles had been launched properly, there was some sort of glitch in the targeting system, resulting in all the weapons colliding in the upper atmosphere and showering the Earth with a deadly rain of nuclear fire, electronic destruction and a generally bad day. The mistake triggered the military response of all the nations - (who all had nuclear weapons by then -plus a few other horrid toys) and the result was truly an Armageddon. The Jews on the moon went into a period of deep mourning. The Orthodox rent their clothing and there were mass counselling sessions.
And then, about one week after the BIG DAY, as it was now called, a presence was detected heading towards the moon. Had one of the missiles escaped? Were the Jews doomed after all?
The leaders checked with the defence experts - no, this was not a missile, it was an old-style spacecraft, like the ones used in the early seventies. As it approached, the laser defence was trained on the craft. Debates raged as to whether the craft should be destroyed or allowed to get close enough to communicate with.A message from the ship came just in time. It said, "We are the last representatives from Earth - two from each country and we come in peace."
Some Jews rejoiced that there were survivors, others demanded isolation or death of the approaching group. The Rabbi who had had the vision of earth's destruction told the leaders that G-d wanted them to have a chance, so they were allowed to circle the moon. When told they could have a section of land to themselves to farm and repopulate, the Earthlings were upset. They told the Jews that they should be allowed to live with the Jews and have all the same privileges - because, after all, in Judaism, the stranger is given the same rights and privileges as the citizen.
Upon hearing this, the leaders went to the Rabbi with the visions, and he offered to guide the visitors to their new home. The leaders allowed him to give the instructions for landing. Of course, not trusting the Rabbi, the commander of the ship didn't listen to his advice and instead crashed into a lunar crater.
And so we have the final days of the history of the planet Earth, which have been generously shared with us by the Jewish colony of the 453rd Solar System of the M Galaxy. Although the Earth is currently uninhabitable, the head engineer of the Jewish colony on Mars tells us that Venus will be fully colonized by the year 2120, and with continuous replanting, Earth will once again be ready for Jews returning from other planets in the year 2136.
An interesting side note - inside the wreckage of the rocket with the survivors from Earth was a specially marked package that had survived which included the following words:
"Once there was a great planet named the Earth. And there were many peoples on this planet, and they all existed peacefully with each other, except for the Jews Wherever there were Jews, there was trouble. Jews brought dirt and death and hatred and strife. They were finally banished from our planet, only to take with them many great inventors and scientists and doctors, leaving Earth with nothing. We have decided to destroy the remnants of the Jews, and since the first attempt failed, we are the last chance for Earth. Whoever shall find this will know the truth - It was all the Jews' fault."
This panel has been saved and is on display at the Earth Memorial Museum at Rivka Crater, NW, for all travellers who wish to see the remains of a civilization that did not understand the words - "he who blesses the Jews, is himself blessed, he who curses the Jews, is himself cursed"' Shalom.
Credits: "May We Please Have the Moon"? by Janet S. Tiger, copyright 11/15/2003. All rights reserved.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Sic Transit Gloria Socialista

My friends, it’s official – I am a Likudnik. Oy, my grandparents (socialists of the Old School) and my great-grandfather (who campaigned for a Labour Safety Law) are for sure spinning in their graves. But you see that’s what this country does to you. It’s very nice to discuss the Situation in the Middle East from your comfortable Italian designer soft leather armchair, enjoying a nice glass of Merlot wine while nibbling on some Roquefort cheese, but it’s a different story when you are under attack. And don’t get me wrong – under attack we are here in the Holy Land. Not only by the Grad missiles (or the Grad 2.0 that will be hitting my little town within the next two years – mark my words) from Gaza, but also from the international media, that justify any anti-Jewish/anti-Israel opinion or statement – no matter how warped. So after voting moderate left-wing for two decades or so, I am now officially a hawk. Damn, it really feels good!

Voting in Israel is an Event – celebrated with an official national holiday. Yep, you don’t get time off for moving apartments, but you do get time off for voting, which will only take up to 30 minutes or so of your time. Needless to say, it’s a brutal waste of money in my opinion. When I made alyah 12 years ago and got the invitation to vote, I was convinced that I would get a secret code or something like which would enable me to vote via my cell phone. Or at least via Internet! But no, high-tech Israel (where even pumping gas with your company car is fully automated – courtesy of the Israeli Dalkan system), voting will take you back to the time of the British Mandate. You see, this is how it goes.

You go to your local voting station, which is a school or community center in your neighborhood, No need to check the street number – just go where there are heaps of people loudly discussion politics. You can recognize the different supporters by their T-shirts/caps/promotional garb on their illegally parked cars. Don’t make eye contact – just head for the entrance door. Once you are inside, you have to figure out where to go. The invitation should have a number, unless you didn’t receive it, in which case you call the “Moked” (the hotline) and ask. Don’t try to go by something as simple as the first letter of your family name – it wouldn’t fly. OK, now you are inside and you walk up to a table with 3 people – think American Idol jury without attractive people like Paula Abdul. The triumvirate (m/f) has huge ledgers in front of them that any ship captain from the time of Sir Francis Drake would have been proud of. One takes your identity card and the other two try to find you in the ledger. The previous time I voted, they could not find me under the D, although both my given and family name starts with that letter. After 20 minutes, I was located under “Dayan” - although I have no connection to that illustrious family at all. Once identified, you are sent to the voting booth itself, which is a carton box around an old rickety-rack table. I was afraid to sneeze and bring it all tumbling down. On the table are little pieces of paper (see photo) with up to three Hebrew letters on it. I felt like an idiot – I was used in Europe to vote using an interactive computer touch screen (I still vote for the national and European Parliament – trying to keep the radicals out). You vote by putting the Hebrew letter(s) piece of paper that represents your favorite party in an envelope that you then place in the secured voting box (that looks like a recycling bin – how fitting!). Only then do you get your identity card back and are you allowed to leave. My fitness trainer is one of the polling station people in her neighborhood, so I am looking forwards to her stories. Counting votes is done by hand, under the beady eyes of the different party representatives. I don’t envy her – it will be mayhem all around. (But it does pay well!) It’s good that she used to be an Olympic weightlifter – tempers flare and fists fly.

The elections tomorrow will quite likely be a Likud victory with Netanyahu as the new PM. I would be happy about that – Bibi is an economic genius and the Likud has some good people on list, not in the least BennyBegin (son of the late Menachem and one of the few truly honest and truthful politicians). Our country and the Western world need a strong Israeli government – for all our sakes and our democracies.

So there it is – after several generations of peace-loving socialists, I am the first polictial hawk in my family. Please don’t tell my sister – she is whipping up a gourmet meal in her safe Euro 25,000 designer kitchen in Europe…..and still voting Labour!