Bureaucracy stinks. There is not a country in the world that does not have its own set of bureaucratic problems. However, I don’t live in another country in the world, I live in Israel.
Here is a quick guide on how to answer questions, fill in forms and deal with bureaucracy, Israel-style.
1. A straightforward question on a form is not straightforward. Think as far out of the box as possible eg. are you married, single, other? answer, fish. That way your water bill will be cheaper.
2. Do not expect the representative of the government department you are speaking to by telephone to tell the truth. Rather than say, ‘I don’t know’, it is more than likely a fabricated story will be offered or you will be yelled at for not knowing the answer yourself.
3. Have access to a fax machine and printed off forms. Internet access or call centres do not a department make, this is 1985 you know. Pen to paper all the way.
4. A visit in person to the main office is oftentimes the most productive way to deal with a query. Take with you; your employer’s blessing to be off for the whole day, packed lunch, warm clothing for the air conditioning, a book, all the relevant documentation in triplicate, ID (with photocopy), patience, throat lozenges to soothe your voice box after the meeting and a tasty bribe for the clerk (homemade pastries work well).
5. Do your research. If you want something done fast try to get hold of the name of someone in the department and then check them on Facebook, Linked In, outlook address book etc. until you find someone you know, who knows them. Then get your friend to speak to their friend/family member to ensure the desired outcome. (In Israel this is very easy as there is only 1 degree of separation not 6)
6. Personal stories always help. “I couldn’t register my car/pay my fine/make that court date because my mother has been sick, I have been sitting shiva (7 day mourning period), my son just went to the army, I was in miluim (reserve duty), I have just moved here from [insert country] and don’t understand. Feel free to embellish (make up) for the human connection.
7. Do not expect the same answer to the same question from 2 different people in the same department. For example? What colour form do I need? Answer 1 – pink, answer 2 – green. Fill in the blue one.
8. Don’t take it personally. If you follow the last part of clause 4 you will discover that the clerks are indeed human and welcome some interaction that doesn’t involve raised voices, spittle and empty threats. So try to remain calm, persevere and a little dedication to completing the task in hand should stand you in good stead.