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Israel Today

Illustration: Denis Shifrin

HELPLESSLY picking up today's unsolicited, unwanted copy of Israel Today, I asked with tears in my eyes - "What's the point of spending thousands of shekels for an intercom system with a security panel, when we give every Tom, Dick and Harry the secret code to get into our building?"

I asked the question at our house committee's recent annual general meeting. No one answered. Then someone remarked feebly, "Everyone knows the codes anyway.... I asked one messenger how he got in and he just shrugged and elbowed his way out." Well, of course they know the codes. How clever do you have to be to work out one down and one across or diagonal or some other silly variation on this theme? We don't choose our codes to befuddle those who have no right to enter - but to make it easy for our aging residents to remember them. Who wants to be locked out of the building at midnight?

Is anyone else irritated by the piles of junk dumped into the mailbox? Or worse, dropped outside the front door by the weasels that weasel their way into the buildings.

A while back I decided that I didn't have to live with this and I got a friend to write a note in Hebrew, requesting: "No unsolicited mail, please. No pamphlets, newspapers or advertising items I haven't ordered. Thank you." All very polite, which I pasted on my postbox.

Next day, someone pointed at the note and laughed. "A thankless quest…nobody will take any notice of it." But she was wrong because someone did. By the next evening the note had been torn off, crumpled and chucked into the bin that stands in our foyer for the singular purpose of collecting unwanted junk mail.

After the note on my postbox didn't work, I put one up on my front door, half fearing that my apartment would be vandalized in retribution. But no, I needn't have worried. The note's still there a month later - a piece of decoration right above the peephole along with the newspapers, catalogues, hang-on handle ads and others deposited by my door even though they never make it through the front door.

Recently, amidst a great media fanfare, I received another unordered gift - a new Hebrew newspaper. From now on I would have to deal with this additional intrusion into my living space. What's more, these unwanted 'gifts' are also left on the doorsteps of my neighbors who apparently also don't want them - but who are content to let them pile up until I throw them away. Our cleaner, a nice man, is too polite to pick up our junk or clear it away.

I emailed the publishers of the new daily, instructing them to stop delivering their papers to me. No reply. I phoned and an earnest young woman tried, without success, to get the delivery stopped. She called me back to check each day for a week, to no effect. I instructed her to stop the deliveries to our doors, saying that the papers could just as easily be posted into our boxes. I fulminated that the owners of the paper had no right to enter my building. I pasted sheets of the newspaper around my front door and wrote large signs in huge black letters proclaiming that "I do not want this paper - please stop delivering it to me."

As my mother used to say: "es hot gehelfd vi a teiten bankes!" (which is an old Yiddish saying that doesn't bear literal translation but means it helped like a hole in the head!)

By this time my paranoia was in full fury and I was hardly sleeping. Why should anyone be able to do this to me? I was not going to stand for it. I decided that I'd sit up all night to catch the deliveryman if I had to. Next day I got up at 5 am and parked myself outside the front door. Unlipsticked and thoroughly un-beautiful, I was the delivery-boy's worst nightmare.

I heard the elevator start and watched the numbers creep to the top floor then stop-start its way down. I listened as the door opened and shut. My heart beat with fear and anticipation. What if the man turned on me? I've heard of road rage - but does anyone know anything about junk newspaper-boy rage?

The elevator paused at my floor. A young hip-hop kinda guy in baggy jeans, with a baseball cap cocked the wrong way, his cheeks round with gum, pirouetted in the doorframe. Nonchalantly he lifted his arm in a well-choreographed serve, aiming his missiles-.

"Loh!" I shouted, standing up, my finger wagging in his face. "Loh! Ani loh rotzah - I do not want this paper!"

The young man looked like he'd been electrocuted - did his hair stand on end? His head, rocking to the beat of sounds streaming through his brain via his MP4, zapped back to an alarming present. His eyes swung round searching for cues to orient him to time and place. Again I yelled - "Ani loh rotzah... please do not deliver the paper to my apartment ... do not bring them to this floor. Understand...? Anachnu - loh rotzim! Nobody wants your papers here."

Shell-shocked, Mr. Newspaper Deliverer backed into the lift and pressed a button to take him on a quick trip anywhere ... fast. Who knows what he was thinking and feeling.

But me? On my face was the smile of the tiger. Talk about empowerment! I was high with success and energy. I wasn't a victim ... I had taken on an impossible situation and made it go away. I was unbeatable!

For a whole week my doormat was clear and clean, exactly the way I like it.

Then - yesterday morning when I stepped out - there it was again. Mocking our secret intercom code installed to prevent unwanted intruders, cocking a snoot at my hubris in thinking I could beat the system, the offending paper leered mischievously at me, proclaiming without any sense of shame -"ISRAEL TODAY". 

 

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Sunday, 13 June 2021

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