I hadn’t received my passport back one week after giving it to the police so they could process my residence permit. As an American abroad, I lose sleep when my passport isn’t in my possession.
I had been losing sleep for a week.
So I called HR to ask when it would be back, since the passport would be mailed to them. They said three more days.
As you might remember from last week’s adventures, I need my passport so I can activate my bank account and receive my salary (among other things). No passport, no bank account. No bank account, no salary. No salary, no sanity (or much else, honestly, since I’m broke).
I calmed myself down regarding HR’s lack of concern about the whereabouts of my passport and went to a meeting with my cohorts in the mathematics stream of the Language Centre. One of my colleagues asked how I was. I asked her if she wanted the honest answer or the one I am probably supposed to give. She said to answer honestly.
I ranted a little bit about the whole situation, which I have (for the most part) remained quiet about at work so I can remain composed and professional.
Immediately after hearing of my plight, three colleagues offered me money for rent and food. I could have cried. I barely know these people. But the fact remains that they know the pain of these kinds of problems in China. They were serious about lending me money.
I accepted, the meeting started, and by the end of the meeting I had an email from HR saying my passport was back. Really!? So much for the authority of the previous response about it taking three more days… Sigh.
1:59 p.m. – timestamp of the email from HR
2:48 p.m. – the time I read the email
3:33 p.m. – I obtain my passport from HR, complete with shiny new residence permit
3:49 p.m. – I alert my bank contact via WeChat that I am on my way
3:59 p.m. – I arrive at the bank via bus
4:08 p.m. – I activate my bank account
Let’s recap. The time it took me to actually activate the bank account, once I had my passport back, was just over 30 minutes.
Please observe a moment of silence for my sanity.
They say everything takes longer in China. It does, but it doesn’t have to! The axiom “time is money” rings true in the U.S. and people cram so much into their lives that they have to multitask (or pretend to) in order to get things done. Here? Time is money, but money is just currency. There is no more or less time in China than anywhere else, but the behavior here indicates otherwise. I haven’t formed any hypotheses as to why this is, but I’m sure only time will tell. And I’ve got almost three whole years to go.