Where do I begin? How many times have I had to say that? And how many times has it meant that something else bad has happened? Too many.
As my last entry stated, we’ve had to go back to Beijing. (Insert a stream of bad words and a few huffs and puffs of pure frustration.) We arrived on Sunday evening after spending 9.5 hours on a train. We were supposed to have gotten soft sleepers, but all of them had been sold out or at least that is what our support staff said. They had to buy us some soft seats instead. It wasn’t too bad. The train was nicer than the others we have been on. It was a double decker for one and the soft seats seemed much bigger than usual. I think it was a new train. We were lucky because the seats facing us weren’t taken so Phil and I each had two seats to ourselves. I tried to sleep, but it wasn’t possible. Instead, I started and finished the book I had brought with me – Thief of Always by Clive Barker. I haven’t been able to read too much lately with all the insanity that has been going on. So that was nice. I miss reading.
Once we fought our way out of the train station we hunted down a taxi. We found one sitting on the side of the road with the cabbie and a few of his friends chillin beside it. We told him that we wanted to go Er Wai and his immediate response was 100 kuai(yuan). That was an insane an offer considering we weren’t that far from the school and that he was a taxi and had a meter to go by. We told him that was too expensive and he dropped it to 80 kuai. Again we told him it was too expensive and decided to go find another taxi driver down the street. He stopped us and said 50 kuai. That seemed like a better deal even though it was a little more than it probably would of cost. Whatever we paid was going to be paid back, so it didn’t matter, but being ripped off is just wrong! We took the 50 kuai offer and off to WECL we went. I tried getting a receipt of some sort, but the cabbie kept saying sorry that he couldn’t. I gave up and we got out. It seems that so few Chinese our legit. That bothers me.
No one at the dorm speaks English, so we had to call Richard, his Incompetentness, and tell him that we were there. He told us to call Joe, his lackey, and that he would let us in. So we did. The person that answered the phone was not Joe, but instead some poor Chinese man who didn’t know what I was saying. I hung up and told Phil to try. This time an angry Chinese woman answered. Phil hung up. I tried calling back Richard, but his phone was busy. I waited a little while and called again. It was still busy. I did this countless times to continue to get the Chinese message of, “Sorry, the subscriber you have called is busy.” Phil and I sat down on the couch trying to figure out what to do when Joe came into the lobby. I guess his Chinese instinct told him someone was looking for him. He didn’t even know we were there yet. He got the key and took us to our room, brought us some health forms to fill out and left us to our favorite place in the world(you can hear the sarcasm in my words, right? – Room 110 – our on and off again home for the last month or so. This time though, they changed our sheets. They thought Beijing had released it’s grip on us too, but they had been fooled as well.
Starving after our long journey, we went to the closet and fastest place – McDonald’s. We stuffed ourselves and then made our way back home. We had to go to bed in order to be able to wake up at 6:00 am. Joe had told us that we had to meet him in the lobby at 7:00 am so that he could take us to get our health exam. Like the good Chinese man that he is, Joe was and our driver were there right on time. When they want to be, they can be Kings of Punctuality. We entered Beijing’s rush hour and began our journey across town. After 30 minutes of nonstop stop and go, my eyes began to droop. I layed my head of Phil’s shoulder and before I knew it, I was fast asleep. I awoke almost 45 minutes later to find that we still hadn’t arrived. I didn’t think we would ever get there, but not long after I woke up, the driver pulled over and we hopped out.
I don’t what it is about Chinese people, but they are always in a freaking hurry. As soon as we got out of the car, Joe took off for the front door of the “Inspection Building”. He ran up the stairs, threw 1300 yuan reception desk lady, and rushed us like we were on fire from one room to the next. It was like he was being timed or something and if we stayed there too long something really bad would happen to us. This is how is always is when we go somewhere with a Chinese person in the lead.
The exam was much like the one we got in Hangzhou – fast and stupid. It took 30 minutes for the both of us to get a ECG, blood drawn, our weight, height, eyes, and pulse checked and to get an x-ray of our chest. They didn’t even check my eyes. The “doctor” just pointed and said, “Ok?” I could have had the worst vision on the planet and he would have never known. I know why we had to come back though. Every time you get a new visa, you need a need health inspection. It has something to do with the rules. Even though we had one in Hangzhou six months ago, it doesn’t matter. And the reason it had to be done in Beijing, is because we are being registered as Beijing teachers at Er Wai even though we won’t be teaching there. Why they are doing this – I have no idea. I’m just shaking my head and praying this all works it self out.
Joe took us back to Er Wai after our health exam was over and told us we could get some sleep. I decided to go to the WECl office and see if I could find any of the teachers I’d met previously. I knew that they would shocked to see me since they thought I had finally left for good and was Shenyang at least for the next 4 months. When Gloria and Donnie walked in and saw me they did a double take. “What in the world are you doing here?” They asked with great big shocked expressions on their faces. They couldn’t believe everything that had happened. As Gloria put it, “I’m flabbergasted.” They all were. Heck, so am I. So is Phil.
After telling Gloria and Donnie and their family everything that had happened since we left I decided to go take a nap. A few hours later our cell phone rang and woke me up. It was Richard. He wanted to know where we were. He said that all of our documents should me done by Thursday and that we could probably go back to Shenyang this weekend.
And this is when all the S**T hit the fan. This is when I looked up at our white ceiling and said, “Just what have I done, God? Tell me what I have done wrong so that I can fix my ways. Please, God, tell me, and I will stop whatever it is that displeases you.”
Because we have no students to teach in Shenyang(Phil actually has one student) and because they won’t be getting them any time soon, Richard has decided that it is best to relocate us all the way down to the city of Xiamen. This means that we have to go back to Shenyang and repack everything that we just got done unpacking. We seriously just finished making our new home “home”. We only just got there a week ago and now we have to leave. And our poor adopted fish, Pi Jiu(Beer in Chinese), what will we do with him?
I don’t think Richard even has room for us in Xiamen. At last check, Xiamen had more than enough teachers to operate the WECL school there. They’ve already started their semester. I have no idea what this means for us or how in the world we can start teaching students who already have teachers a month into the curriculum. At least Richard is paying for everything. I guess I can be thankful for that much. And, on top of that, Xiamen is a very pretty place in China to be.
I’m actually a lot more calm than I was when we first found out. It’s all more frustrating than anything really and to be bounced around China like we have just adds to it. I know that nothing in China is easy, but this is becoming quiet ridiculous.
There are only so many times that you can act like a duck and have the water run off your feathers and back into the water before you really start losing your mind.
I think I lost my mind today.