This morning I came into the office building where I work. It is a very interesting place - everyone in Jerusalem knows about it. Location-wise, you almost can't beat it.
It is minutes away from Central Jerusalem - a wonderful, easy 5 minute walk from everything. The train stops right in front of the building. Inside there's a world of stores - a fantastic printer that we love to use, a fully-stocked music store, two places that sell, fix and do everything with watches.
A few years ago, there were three sex shops. One was deep in the basement below all the stores. Christian missionaries decided they'd clean up the building and so they spent a fortune buying out that basement sex store owner...who was so happy to take so much money, and purchase himself an even bigger store in the center of the building. Yeah, dumb idea.
There are a lot of lawyers in the building, many floors of government offices, some nice cafes, a post office, etc. It also has a permanent and apparently growing native population of cats that have free rein of the building.
The lower level of the complex is a confusing mixture of stores - a shopper's delight - and a business nightmare. And on top of that, some very interesting characters. One is a woman who seems to believe that cats have a God given right to eat, sleep and do their business where they choose - and that they naturally have more rights than people who pay tens of thousands of shekels to rent the stores because these cats, and the generations before them that she has been feeding for 17 years, have something equivalent to squatter's rights.
So she feeds them inside the building and threatens anyone who attempts to remove the food - that would be several cleaners, me, Elie, Amira, and anyone else she sees near her precious friends. She has harassed us several times (Elie has a delightful video of her ranting). I'm to be thrown in jail and cursed by God, if she has her way.
She can see that I'm a religious woman and so she has informed me, as God's chief right hand adviser apparently, that God will punish me and my children if I dare to harm the cats (which, for the record, I have never threatened to do).
All I asked her to do was to feed them outside the building - as the City Inspectors have said she should do.
She informs me that the first Mitzvah (commandment) in the Torah is against being cruel to animals (um...it's not, I promise you. It's about being fruitful and multiplying and I actually think God was talking to Adam and Eve, not the cats).
So, in the meantime, the building is battling the cats and for the most part, losing.
Then there are the dozens of people who violate the law and smoke in the
center of the building - all day long. Several of these are people rent or own shops here and so, when I complained because I can't stand the smell of smoking, they get very angry. Apparently, the very strict laws that Israel has passed in the last few years don't apply if you rent/own and if you really want to smoke...One guy told me that since he owns the stores on both sides of one hallway, I wasn't allowed to walk down that hallway. Yeah...that.
And then there was today...when I came in and found a body on the steps near my office. I stopped and looked for a second. Another woman was in front of me - she looked up, saw the young man sprawled there and decided to ignore him and go in her office.
I assumed he was asleep - but really didn't think it was my place to check and so I went to the main information/security desk. That's my office there to the right of the...body. I really didn't want to walk past him. When I got to the information/security desk, I had a very funny conversation with a woman who explained that she can't check because she was alone. This is security? There might be a dead body lying on the floor in the center of the building but you can't check because you have to stay in the glass booth and answer questions? All those cameras you're looking at - how come you can't see the kid?
"Is he asleep?" she asked me.
"I hope so but I think you should check." I said again. "You're all alone here?"
"Well, someone is making the rounds."
You'd think she'd figure this out...but okay, I decided to help her. "Maybe you should tell him to go check...NOW???"
So she did - and a few minutes later, the security guard came and woke the boy up.
But honestly, I thought to myself, this has got to be a comedy - a whole movie could be made about this building.
Next time I get frustrated, I'll tell you about rumors of bodies buried in the cement and the rabbi's curses. Stay tuned.