Not every day can be wontons and wowos (Chinese candy).
Spoiler Alert – If you chose to follow me as I blog my way through China you have to read the bad with the good. You have to allow me to be completely transparent in my adventures and sometimes living in China is hard and I need to vent. Some days China smacks you right in the face.
I had to leave the office early one day last week to go the Shanghai Police Offices to register as a permanent resident. Yes, I had to go the the Police Office to show them my face, have my picture taken, and sign a document. Again, NIKE administration had someone there to help me through the process.
Kenny, my driver, picked me up from the offices and drove me about 30 mins outside of Shanghai to the Police Office. When I arrived, someone named Jack texted me from an unknown number telling me to meet him on the 3rd floor. Kenny was not allowed to go in with me. As I made my way up to the 3rd floor, I was thinking, how will Jack know who I am? How will I find Jack. I don’t know Jack.
As I slowly made my way up the escalator, with every step packed with at least 2 people, this young man was waving papers at me and calling my name. He quickly escorted me to the front of a line and put me in front of an officer. Sweat began to form on my brow. The crabby officer, no one here in China smiles, had my passport and other documents in front of him. He motioned for me to look into a camera, snapped my picture, handed me a form to sign and waved me away. Jack, asked something in Chinese and the officer gave me a piece of paper with my picture on it and told me not to lose it. This was my temporary travel document so I could travel within China. When I asked about my passport he said it would be returned upon the approval of my residency. Okay. That feels strange. Who does this? China.
Kenny drove me home and because it was the day before another holiday here in China the traffic was incredible. It took us 2 hours to get back. I had not had lunch and it was around 5:30p so I asked Kenny to drop me at an Italian restaurant, walking distance from my apartment. The weather was nice so I asked to be seated outside. I enjoyed a nice glass of red wine and some pasta while a herd of bugs enjoyed biting my ankles. I had at least 10 huge bites when I got up from the table.
As I walked back, something wet dropped from above and hit the back of my neck and ran down my shirt. Not wanting to look up, I told myself it must just be condensation from someone’s air conditioning unit. Right?
When I walked into my apartment, I looked over at the washing machine that I have nick-named “Little F’er” as it has given me trouble since day one. It was flashing “E04” on the screen and water was coming out from underneath and was flooding the kitchen floor. Perfect. Exactly what I wanted to come home to. I quickly grabbed towels to clean it up, called the front desk where I was told that due to the holiday, it would be 2 days before anyone could come and look at it. I explained that my clothes were locked in the “Little F’er” and I needed help getting them out. They sent an engineer and after some time, he was able to get the door unlocked and I spent the next hour dealing with dripping wet clothes.
I’m going to bed. I’m going to brush my teeth with bottled water because the water supply system in China cannot be trusted and go to bed. That was my plan. Get in bed and watch a little good old American TV from the Slingbox website that Greg had hooked up so he could watch the Duck games once he arrives. Nope. Not tonight. I got a blank screen as I tried to log on. Lights out. I went to sleep at 8:30.
I awoke the next morning and thought I would scramble up some eggs that I had purchased. I broke open two eggs and saw that the yokes were tangerine in color. Strange, I thought. As I began to scramble them and broke the yokes open, blood ran out. Right down the disposal went the eggs and I started to cry.
As I headed to work, I ran into a co-worker who noticed I was down. “Come on. Let me buy you a coffee.” We sat and chatted and I explained my last 24 hours. He said “You’re having a China day.” He explained that it happens to the best of us. He shared that he has lived on 4 continents, and lived in China for the last 4 years and China is the hardest place to live. You’re okay. It’s normal and it’s really hard here sometimes.
Just hearing someone say it made me feel better. Word got out around the office and my NIKE teammates rallied around me throughout the day sharing their “China Day” horror stories. They shared with me ways to get through it, told me to hire an Ayi to do my laundry and where to buy my eggs.
Greg arrives on Friday and I’ll be in balance once again. I’ll have someone to share in the adventures and together we’ll support each other through “China Days.”