Sunday, October 09, 2011

The Run Around

I think when people think of China, they think of communism and imagine some bleak, overbearing regime. In reality, the bleak gray sky aside, most days I don't experience anything by way of overbearing.

But then, there are days. Like yesterday.

Megan's passport was expiring this month, so on September 7th we went to the embassy to apply for a new one. This process should take up to two weeks but sometimes we've been contacted only days later with a new one. So when Erik was nearing the end of his trip last week, and he realized that they had never called, we were surprised. We were also nervous, because her expiring passport meant her visa also expired October 1. Well, that was a holiday followed by the visa office being closed for 6 days. Erik picked up Megan's passport on Thursday but the visa office wasn't open til yesterday which meant I had to go. I'm not good with these situations.

So I headed down to the visa office armed with a Chinese friend. There, we had to photocopy every document we brought. We then stood in line to explain to a man why, although the new passport for some odd reason said it was issued September 7th (really? the day we gave it to you? And yet you never told us it was done?) we weren't able to get it until October 6th. Thankfully, the embassy stamped something for us that basically said it was their fault and showed the pick up date. We were sent to photocopy the pick up date. Then we stood in another line and explained the date discrepancy to another woman. She was fine with it, but pointed out that Megan's registration had not been reissued after picking up the visa.
And that's where it got tricky.

See, every time you come in and out of the country or get a new passport or a new visa you have to go to the local police and register within 24 hours. Our old district really didn't care about this. Our new district LIVES by this rule. Last time I had to write a self-criticism "I am bad person for not obeying the laws of this country" (you can make me write it but you can't make me think it).

When we went to the police and showed them Megan's passport and registration, she first pointed out that it had been TWO WHOLE DAYS since we picked up the passport. Unacceptable! Bordering on treason!! Then she saw the September 7th date and her dislike of me reached a new level. 5 phone calls and 45 minutes later, we were issued a new registration card.

That's where my gracious Chinese friend took me home while he went back to the visa office to show them the new registration. Then today we get to go back to the police to show them the new visa and get re-issued another new registration card. Then for some reason really not clear to me, we'll have to go back one more time. Maybe that's just to remind me where I live.

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