Duct tape nation?

11 02 2011

Israel has more companies on the tech-oriented NASDAQ
stock exchange than any country outside the US – more than all of Europe, India, and China combined. Nor is Israeli innovation limited to computers, security, and communications; the Jewish state leads the world in medical device patents, and is a strong global player in cleantech and biotech. (Excerpt from Start Up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle)

For the last twenty-one years I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area’s Silicon Valley.  Our neighbors were Apple, Google, Facebook, Maxtor, Oracle, Sun Microsystems, Intel, Cisco, Pixar…

As could be expected, when Start Up Nation hit the bookshelves it was all the buzz in “The Valley.”  And why not? An estimated 40,000 Israelis live there, and most of them are in high tech as entrepreneurs, engineers or v.c.  So, here in the start up nation itself — where innovation, invention, and out of the box thinking reigns — a lesson in improvisation was just learned.

Israel is a small country where space is at a premium. Our laundry room is no exception: a side-by-side washer/dryer is not possible.  What to do?  What to do? Go vertical, middle-aged man!

One problem, though.  The dryer has wheels and nothing to lock it into the washer.  No brackets, no screws, no nothin’.  It positively teetered.  What to do?  What to do? Aha!  The Owners Manual, which instructed:

“Do not stack the tumble dryer on top of other appliances without the correct stacking kit.”

Stacking kit?  What stacking kit?  What to do?  What to do? Why, call customer service, of course.  Purposefully, that is exactly what Anat did.  And, here is how the conversation went:

Anat: We bought a dryer yesterday and Asi the sales person helped us.  So, I asked him what kind of dryer I should get and where do you install it in our small laundry room?  He said, ‘Just put it on top of the washer.’  I asked him, ‘What if it doesn’t fit the washer?’  He said, ‘All the dryers fit on top of the washers.’  So, after it was delivered we put it on the washer, but it looks very unstable.  What do I do?

Customer Service Representative: Oh, it fits, don’t worry.

Anat: Are you sure?  It doesn’t look stable, it has wheels on the back.

Customer Service Representative: Lady, I have the same thing in my house.  It’ll be fine.  Don’t worry.

Anat: But Asi didn’t even ask what kind of a washing machine we have.  What if it falls down?

Customer Service Representative: It won’t fall down.

Anat: But the instructions say, ‘Don’t stack the dryer.’

Customer Service Representative: It doesn’t matter. Most homes in Israel have the dryers on the washers.

Anat: What if it moves?

Customer Service Representative: Just put a towel under it.

Anat: What? Put a towel?

Customer Service Representative: Of course! I put a towel between mine and its just fine!

Taking this as our cue, here is our solution…

What is the “take away” from this episode?  We just aren’t in America anymore.  Making aliyah is more than just changing geographical location, it is a very big cultural shift.  We new immigrants have to reorient our expectations.  In the U.S. a customer service representative would never tell you to stabilize your stacked dryer with a towel.  Instead, they would help you find the correct stacking kit.  Here, however, the culture is: If it doesn’t work, make it work.

And that, my friends, is what makes this country tick.

Shabbat shalom!  !שבת שלום

The sales person at the store told us, “Of course it goes on top of the washer.  No problem!”
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