Sharing some Israeli life lessons I learned while at Ben-Gurion airport this past November, on my way back to the US from a client engagement:
- Never show up at the airport more than 5 hours early, even if you have nowhere else to go in the middle of the night. Better to just stay parked at the beach, or find an Aroma Cafe that is open 24/7.
- Never show up to your flight without sleeping the previous evening, and all the more so if you didn’t sleep the night before that. Security staff do not like people who can’t look them in the eyes because they are just too damn tired. Also, make sure to stay awake in the terminal. Do not fall asleep on your luggage cart. If you do fall asleep, don’t snore.
- Correcting the security staff when going through the initial pre-screening process is not recommended; if they hear that you work in any sort of technological capacity, they will probably call you a “programmer”. At that point, you are a “programmer” until further notice, or at least until your flight enters international airspace.
- Never try to explain to the security staff in pre-screening (see #3 above) how process management works by pointing out the inefficiencies in their pre-screening processes as an example. This is a non-starter even when done with relative politeness. Your מוקדן (prescreened security clearance letter) will be taken for further inspection, and you’ll never see it again. Ever.
- Don’t show up with 3 checked bags plus your carry-on, especially if you were in the country for an abbreviated six-week stay.
- Don’t bother trying to explain why you have all that luggage, or why you are going home earlier than planned. (“What, you don’t like our country?”)
- Don’t tell the security staff that one of those suitcases was brought over to you by someone else back home in the USA (since you didn’t have the proper wardrobe) and that your significant other sent these additional clothes with friends who happened to be travelling to Israel the very next week. They will a) think you are an idiot for not knowing how to dress yourself, and b) call you a “bad” programmer.
- Don’t bother trying to explain why your Israeli client would bring in a
consultantprogrammer from abroad, especially since it’s a well-known fact that everyone living in Israel knows with 100% certainty what is always the best course of action, and no פרייר from the USA will ever convince them otherwise.
- Definitely do not tell the screeners to hurry up because you won’t have enough time in the duty-free shop to buy essential items such as Ahava gift packs, halva, and peanut-butter flavored M&Ms that you can’t find anywhere else in Israel except for the shelves inside the Ben-Gurion duty-free shop (which you will wind up bringing back to Israel anyway for your משפחה when you return next month on vacation)
- Breathe. Deeply. Practice סובלנות (loosely translated as “Patience, Grasshopper”)
— written at the gate, Ben Gurion Airport, Israel.