Friday, May 14, 2010

... despite of the embassies

In Israel, most of the foreign embassies are located in Tel Aviv, rather than in our capital Jerusalem (due to unfortunate reluctance in accepting Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Israel). They usually reside in nice buildings, thus slightly upgrading the overall outlook of the city (even though they hide behind thick fences, but this is an understandable security need).

So far, I've only had to visit only two embassies, and very different ones: US and Ukraine's. And every time I've been to one, I was pondering on exactly the same subject: what it is in the embassy rules that makes the overall experience so very unpleasant?

It's not that the personnel is terribly rude and discourteous to their customers. (Even though sometimes some total lack of any human empathy peeps through the blanket of cold idistant politeness the embassy employees wear.) I think that it's the total disregard of the visitors needs that makes it so disagreeable. A harsh thing to say, but this is the only explanation I found so far to the fact that embassies lack elementary facilities available in any typical post office.

When you stand for hours in a long airport-security-style snake-shape line, in a cramped hall of US embassy, or are dehydrated under the hot Israeli sun near the pointy fence of Ukrainian embassy (see picture above), you can't help but wonder: why the embassy authorities couldn't think of introducing a system where you take a number, sit on a bench, and read a magazine while waiting for your turn? Or make some arrangements for pregnant women and senior citizens that would allow them to skip the line? And so on...

Sure, I love the fact that the embassies are in Tel Aviv (it's so convenient), but every time I walk by one, I recall what a dreary place it is. "You think this is bad? - asked me a friend when we walked by the large crowd of people waiting to come in to the Ukrainian embassy on Yirmiyahu st., - You should have seen me standing in a line of Israeli embassy in Moscow - 6-month pregnant, in November, while it was snowing!"


Dina said...

Well said. You are so right.

Here at the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem you can't get in without an appointment. You have to make it on the Internet (forget about talking to a human on the phone), usually months in advance.

Shabbat shalom.

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