Where is Menahem?
No one in the Israeli business environment could have foreseen the amazing impact of the mobile phones. Not this kind of size and scope. Everyone, and I really mean everyone, has at least one and sometimes people have a few of them, so you look more interesting. I even saw people with cars that had 4 mobile phone antennae – but I found out it was just for show.
Of course, once you have one of those things, you can't imagine life without it, especially now the smart phones (they really call them like that!) that do almost everything besides scratching your back or making coffee.
In our Jewish State we can come up with enough reasons to own a mobile phone and even buy some for the kids: you want to know where they are, what they are doing, if they arrived ok and, after every bomb that still explodes in our country, you want to know that everyone is ok. We have kids and fathers in the army and this list goes on and on.
Of course, with 5 suppliers for a country of 7 million people, trouble is never far away. Typically for Israeli's, the management of the suppliers were so busy counting their profits, that they forgot to take care of the infrastructure. In the most unpredictable places one will find no coverage, and I do not mean the desert: simply in towns or on main highways. This offers opportunities to have fun. For instance when there is a wrong connection.
One does not answer the phone in Israel they way one answers in the USA or Europe. There, people answer the phone saying who they are or wishing you a good day. In Israel, whether you call or are being called, you simply say "AAALLO!" this magical word means everything from "Simon speaking, good morning", to "Law offices, how may I help you?". This "AAALLO!" is something I do not appreciate at all. In fact: I hate it! Still again, it does give opportunities to have some fun on the line.
A few days back I was driving with our son on the car, when the phone rang. My son pressed the button to receive the call.
"AAALLOO Menachem!!", shouted someone on the other side of the line.
"No, Sir,", was my answer, "this is not Menachem."
He quoted a number, which indeed was mine, and ask if he dialed correctly.
"Yes Sir, the number is correct, but it is mine and not Menachem's.
"Why not?", was the answer. "And where is Menachem?"
"I have no idea, Sir, maybe he gave you the wrong number?", I tried.
"Menachem is not stupid! Maybe you stole his mobile phone?"
My son and I looked at each other. This was the moment of opportunity!
"OK. You got me. This is Menachem, I was messing with you.", I said.
"I knew it, I knew it! You are always pulling my leg!", replied the caller relieved. "Look Menachem, Shlomo gave me the money, exactly one hundred thousand as agreed, but I forgot the details of your bank account. I am on my way to the bank to transfer the money to you."
My partner in crime and I looked at each other with a nasty smile. Sure we could give him a bank account number….
We heard another phone ring on the line and our guy started to talk on another phone.
"AAALLO!!!" Who? Menachem? I am talking to you on the other line! What do you mean 'no'? Not true? Are you trying to drive me crazy? Who is this?"
"AAALLO! Who is this, Menachem?", was my contribution to the discussion.
Suddenly it was quiet on the line.
"But…but…but…", tried the man n vain.
"Menachem!", was my reply, "Menachem, is it you? How are tricks? Did you get the account information yet?"
"I am not Menachem!", shouted they guy. "You idiot! …..no, not you Menachem, I am on the line with Mena…uh, with some lunatic!"
But he guy never answered.
Must have been a wrong number.