Variations on a Theme

My school told me it would be no problem to renew my visa, if I bring in my passport one week before my visa is due to expire. I asked if I needed anything else, like a passport picture, but I was told I didn’t. (Is there any phrase that strikes fear into the expat heart like “We will take care of everything”?)

Two days later, one of the school’s secretaries came into my office.

“Sign here,” she told me, pushing an entirely-in-Chinese form at me.

“What is it?”

“It’s for your visa.”

“Ok, what is it?”

“It’s for your visa.”

“What does it say?”

“It’s for your visa.”

I realized that we were going to have another round of Maybe I Have No Idea, so I accepted the form, telling her I would have a friend translate it and I’d give it to her this afternoon.

“Where is your photo?” Office Twit then asked. If you’re keeping score at home, this is the same Office Twit who told me I didn’t need a picture two days ago.

But I’ve been in China for 9 months! I know how this works! I pulled out the rest of the sheet of passport photos that I was required to buy at my last visa renewal. I think Take that, Chinese Beaurocracy! might have escaped my lips.

“Maybe this is the wrong size,” she said, looking at my photos.

Now, I suppose I’ve set the precedent that all foreigners keep a supply of passport-style photos in their desks for just such an occasion. But honestly, do other expats keep multiple sizes and styles on hand?

“Oh. Ok. Where can I get the right size?”

“Maybe I don’t know.”

“What is the right size?”

“Maybe I don’t know.”

“I’ve had this conversation before. I’ll just ask < Office Manager > when she comes in.”

“If you do not have a photo soon, you can’t get a new visa.”

“When do you need it?”

“Maybe I don’t know.”

I’m really starting to pick up a theme here.

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0 Responses to Variations on a Theme

  1. Stuart says:

    I’m starting to wonder why you ask this person any questions at all?

    Although I love the “maybe I don’t know”. It’s like, “Maybe I know, maybe I don’t.” It’s like your trying to interview a difficult mob informant.

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