Saturday, June 19, 2010

More Citizen Activism (or, The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Shekel)

If there’s anything I can’t stand, it’s paying for something and then not getting what I paid for.

About a week and a half ago, I was heading to work from downtown when I needed to use the bathroom. Just across the street, I saw one of the coin-operated bathrooms that the Jerusalem municipality installed recently, and decided to use it.

Automatic toilet

The “Vacant” light was on...

The "vacant" light is on

... so I paid my shekel and pulled the door, which wouldn’t open. I pushed the refund button, but my shekel didn’t come back.

By now I was pretty annoyed. I called the municipality’s hotline and complained, and eventually, after quite a runaround, I managed to speak with the head of the sanitation department. Unlike the others I had spoken to, he was understanding and accommodating—even when I asked for my shekel back on the grounds that the municipality gets enough of my money in taxes every year.

And so, several days later, we met near the parking lot of my workplace, and he handed me two shekels: one to make up for the one that I had lost, and a second one for the woman who had tried to use the automatic bathroom as I was speaking to the municipality people, and had inserted her shekel before I could reach her.

One shekel

Since I don’t know who the woman is, I donated that shekel to charity. I put the other one toward a small bag of chocolates that I shared at the office.

Citizen activism: it pays!

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