The Schmooze

El Al Cracks Down on Israelis With Punctuality Problems

Last week, I went to meet a certain Israeli politician. Her assistant telephoned a few minutes before the scheduled meet time. “Are you on your way?” she asked. “Yes, as scheduled,” I replied, matter-of-factly. She continued her interrogation: “Er, are you going to be on time?”

Why wouldn’t I? Were the roads blocked by her office? Is there a security closure. No. Then it dawned on me — this is just Israel, where punctuality seems to be more of the exception than the rule. So implausible to this assistant was the simple answer that I would arrive as arranged, that she continued her questioning — how was I getting there? What was my precise location? In the end, the only way to reassure her was to say: “Look, I’m British — I grew up being on time.”

When I walked in to the office, the assistant’s colleague greeted me. “You’re British, I heard you would be punctual,” she said, looking at me as if I’m an exotic specimen of human being.

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El Al Cracks Down on Israelis With Punctuality Problems

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