Foreigners in China have a phrase, “this is China,” sometimes abbreviated T.I.C. It is usually used to describe situations that don’t go the way you expect based on your passport country culture but its just the way it is here. Ideally, this mindset helps us to deal with the sometimes frustrating aspects of life instead of constantly complaining and criticizing. I don’t use this phrase a lot, but there are some days it is just appropriate. Let me tell you about a couple of those days.
My one year internet contract ended. They didn’t contact me about renewing and I didn’t pay contact them before the contract was up. Since I didn’t renew, I decided to try a different company this year. The day that I no longer had internet, I went into the office. First, I had to find the office. The company has a small store at the bottom of my building, but it turns out I couldn’t sign up there (that would have been far too convenient). The clerk reluctantly wrote the name of the building where the office was down for me. I looked it up on my phone and hopped on a bus. Once I got to the building, I had to ask a couple people to figure out which entrance I needed to go in.
Eventually, I got there and explained what I needed. They gave me number 173. They were currently serving 153 or 54. And so I waited. And waited. And waited. Eventually 173 was called. Then I waited while he figured things out and pushed buttons on the computer and wrote numbers down on a sheet of paper. Eventually I was finished, and left with a CD. I couldn’t set it up myself, though. I had to wait for the technician to have time and call me to set it up. Although, if I had been sent home with the CD and had to figure it out myself, that would have been a different chapter in this saga. Finally, I left the office and went home, almost 2 hours later.
While I was at the office, my landlord called. He was responding to a text I had sent him about a leak in my bathroom. When I got home I called him back, and he came over to look at it. It was a pretty small leak, so he called the management office to send the repair guy to fix it. He was on his supper break, so they said we had to wait. The landlord decided that maybe if he turned a knob it would tighten it up and be okay. At least I think that was his thought, because I’d also had that thought but decided not to try it. I’m glad I didn’t try it, because instead of tightening it up, it broke it off. So instead of dripping water, the water started spraying into my bathroom. I ran to get my biggest pot to catch the water. Then the landlord went to turn off the water to the apartment. I snapped the picture while he was out, which explains its poor quality. I didn’t know that he would gone for several minutes, because he had trouble getting it turned off. I managed the water catching situation while he found help and eventually got it turned off. Then he went out to get a new part to fix it.
He came back and we made somewhat awkward small talk while we waited for the repair guy. Eventually, the repair guy came, looked at it, discussed it with my landlord, and left for a little bit. After he came back he concluded that he couldn’t fix it. The hot water was off for the evening and the landlord said he would call someone else to fix it the next day. He did call someone else who came promptly and fixed the problem the next morning. I never did figure out exactly what the problem was, and might not have understood it even in English because I don’t have much in the way of plumbing skills.
Meanwhile, I still didn’t have any internet connection. And I had no idea when they would call me. It turned out that they worked pretty quickly—I got a call from them first thing the next morning. Unfortunaetly, I had left very early to go use the internet at Starbucks before class, but told them I’d be back in the late afternoon. After class, I got lunch and then had to go to the bank. I chose the bank branch where I usually don’t have to wait that long. This day, when I hadn’t really budgeted extra time, there was a line. A long line. By the time I finally finished my business, it was more than half an hour after I should have left. I got a taxi (faster than the bus) and went to a meeting, arriving a bit late.
As I was exiting the subway station at the earliest time I had told the internet guys I would be home, he was calling. I told him I wasn’t there yet, but would be in 15 or 20 minutes. I did manage to make it within that time and called when I got there. The two internet guys came over and did their thing. Now I have not just a router but another device that gets me internet. Again, I don’t understand how it works, but I know that it does. And although this internet is slower by the numbers, in reality it is just as fast and more reliable. So I’m happy with the decision to change companies, even though these were two stressful days.
So this is China. Thankfully, every day is not like this.