Monday, May 30, 2005

To stay or to go?

Okay, the break is over. Sorry for the very long absence (and thank you for the on- and off-blog concern for my absence) but somewhere between, school, work, wedding planning and trying to maintain relationships with the people in my life, I have run out of hours in the day. In fact, I think a good part of my recent weightloss has to do with the fact that I do not have enough time to eat food that would prohibit such weightloss.

But I am emerging from my blogless cave to rant. Yes, folks, rant. I know that never happens on this blog, [insert sarcastic eye-roll here] but today something happened so reprehensible, that I simply lost it.

At the hospital where I go to school there are 2 cafeterias available for the students. One is in the hospital, is relatively expensive, dairy and the food is gross. The other is in the student center (and thus aimed to students), meat, and somewhat cheaper. Today I went to purchase my usual lunch there, and was immediately aware of both a price increase (not hugely significant, but it would have been nice if there was a warning) and an additional, mysterious 1 NIS surcharge. This cafeteria, I must warn you, also charges 10 agurot for each packet of Heinz ketchup that one takes, even when you purchase an item entirely dependant on the ketchup to make it edible (such as fries/chips).

Anyway, between the slight price increase and the mysterious shekel surcharge, the cost of my lunch clearly crossed what marketing people refer to as the "JND" - the Just Noticable Difference (thanks to Bryan for teaching me that tidbit). I asked the cashier what the shekel was for, and she told me that the cafeteria had started charging an additional shekel for the take away container. Yes folks, in a hospital, where most people don't have the time to sit down and eat, the cafeteria realized that they could charge an extra shekel on a necessity for most of its patrons.

Now, this in itself is bad enough. I am certain that if take away service was not available most people wouldn't even eat there, because everyone takes the food away with them. But what was even worse is that there was no warning of this new surcharge. When I asked for the food in take away, no one said "That will be an extra shekel". Even though I thought there should be a clear sign about the new change in policy, I decided to check the price list (which few people look at anyway, particularly when one is used to a certain price) to see if they had put anywhere about this extra take-away fee. And in fact, there was no listing. There was the [old] price listed of a meal, and that was it.

So I asked to speak to the manager, and a man busy dishing out mashed potatoes told me he was it. I said that I didn't think it was fair to charge an extra shekel for take-away containers, but if that they were going to do so, they should at least warn patrons, or at the very least change the price list to reflect this. The "manager" told me that he could do whatever he wanted, charge whatever he wanted and that he didn't have to put prices on anything. This is something that I am certain he is wrong about - even in Israel there must be rules about prices on items.

So I said that I would like to speak to the manager's boss, and he told me there isn't one. He said (and I quote directly) "In this cafeteria, I am God. There is no one above me - I am as high as it gets." This from a man dishing out spuds to students who will all have better jobs than he has. [Sorry to get elitist - particularly from someone who will be wiping people's a**es for a living]. I checked around and he does have a boss, someone who does not serve mashed potatoes to med students.

So I put down my food, and said that he just lost his 1 shekel on a take away container from me, and he lost the food itself because I wouldn't be buying it, but I am not leaving it at this. I am not sure where to turn next, but this is so awful. I know its only a shekel, but its the principles involved - price changing without notification.

Suggestions, anyone?

Highlight from the next blog entry - I rip on the Rabbanut!!