“Finding Myself” in Tel Aviv

When I turned 21 and had just finished the army, unlike most of my generation, I decided that my “finding myself” experience would be becoming economically independent (no longer depending on my Polish mother). I wanted to rent a place for myself in Tel Aviv and find a well paid, sisyphean job that could sustain both the relatively high cost of accommodation in such a sought after city in Israel, as well as the derivative costs of living in Tel-Aviv (restaurant dining and enjoying the nightlife).

As a newbie and first-time home-leaver I found myself working 250–300 hours a month in a production company in southern Tel-Aviv. I got there on a cheap bike my brother was no longer using, and the salary was amazing! This was partly due to the fact that employers are obligated to pay 125% of the hourly rate for the 9th and 10th hours of straight work, 150% for the 11th and 12th, and 200% for any hour after that!

As a recently discharged soldier, over the next few years I didn’t even have to pay income tax. In no time I found myself earning 11,000–13,000 NIS net each month. Together with me in that company there were people who had been working there for up to seven years! One of my managers was there for 11 years as an employee, not an owner, and each day I wondered how he survived working like that for so long.

For most of the people I know, and including myself, working at that job was a passing phase; I ended up surviving about six months. The main downside of working there was that I was 21 years old, I’d just moved to Tel-Aviv, and I was sleeping only 4–5 hours each night (just like in the army), and my sole purpose when I got back home was to get some rest cause I had to get back to work early the next morning.

Working there was a truly educational experience for me. I learned a lot about myself, particularly that I can always push my capabilities and work very hard for something I want; whatever I put my mind into and desire working on, I can!

Editing: Mia Raf-Cam

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