China in New York


Last week, I had to go to New York City to get my visa.  Obviously, this was necessary in order to get back to China.  So, a few things happened during the journey that I feel might be worth commenting about.

– I arrived by bus ($31.95 shoppers special) and was dropped off on 6th and 48th or something.  It was a bit irritating because we arrived in NYC in just 2 hours and 10 minutes, but then we were stuck in 40 minutes of traffic to drive about 6 blocks.  This 6 block drive would bring me 6 blocks further away from the Chinese consulate.  As I watched the consulate get further and further away at the slowest pace in the history of bus drives, I began to get increasingly anxious.

– I speed walked to the consulate and arrived at 10:50 AM.  I had to submit my materials before noon in order to have same day processing.

Waiting in line:

– There were hundreds of Chinese people and a limited number of other Americans.  I wondered what all the Americans were going to be doing in China.

– A black man asked me at one point if I was in the passport pick-up line.  I didn’t know.  Being the fool that I am, I had just walked in, gotten in a line, and began to fill out my paper work as I waited.  (I had already filled out the paper work but I discovered that one of the papers had a different box to be filled in, and I was paranoid that I had filled out the wrong one)  When I shrugged my shoulders and said that I wasn’t sure which line it was, a Chinese man turned and “No.  This.  Is.  The.  Line.  To.  Get.  Processed.”  Obviously, he spoke English.  Nevertheless, it had caught me off guard, the main reason being that every Chinese person was speaking at 1,000 words per minute in…Chinese.  No one was speaking English.  And to hear it from the mouth of a Chinese person was something I was not expecting in the least.  Hadn’t I returned to a Chinese sanctuary in downtown NYC?  I guess not.  If this were true China (in my experience …having lived in a small town) then English would be nonexistent.  It’s not forbidden…I have always been the person yapping away on my cell phone as all eyes turned to me.  But in Cili, Hunan, English was something unique that only I and a few others had the capability of utilizing.

– When it was my turn to hand in my paperwork and passport, I asked the lady which paper she needed.  She glanced at them, glared at me, and replied,”They are the same.”  Well, for the most part they were the same, but in my experience with the word “same” that means there are no dissimilarities.  These papers had one thing different.  Therefore, they were almost the same, but not exactly the same.  Still, this did not seem like the time to explain such a concept…  There was no reason to make this more complicated than it had to be.  I was in.  And she just wanted to finish this as quickly as possible.

– I was out by 11:10 AM.  I had worried that I wouldn’t be through in time.  It took a mere 20 minutes from entrance to exit even despite my metal detector complications.

– I was to return at 2:00 PM.  The office closed at 2:30.  A small window, I thought.  But I had to return, even if it was far away from anything else in the city I desired to see.

-1:45 PM approached and I was extremely far from the consulate.  This caused worry in me.  What happened if I missed my time?  If you miss a flight in China, there’s no, “Okay, you can get on the next open flight.”  On the contrary, you have lost that flight.  You must pay for a new one.  Would the consulate be busy?  Would I be too late to pick up my passport?  Would I be stranded in NYC having to wait until the next day to pick it up?

—- I started to run.

– In my flip flops, I stomped down the street, sweat pouring down my face.  I startled people left and right, who turned to see a distraught guy sprinting down the street.  What could he be running from? they must have thought.

– I arrived at 2:05 PM and rushed through security soaked with sweat.

– I walked in and went up to the window.   A Chinese person stepped in front of me and cut me…there’s the China, I remembered!

– I was handed a number and directed to the next window.  I paid and was finished by 2:10 PM.  Good thing I worried so much.  This did the exact opposite of legitimate my concern.

– Before leaving, I went into the bathroom.  Curious about whether they had a squatter toilet or a Western toilet, I went into the stall.  To my surprise, I discovered that they had actually created a hybrid toilet.  It was neither!  It looked like a Western toilet, but there was no seat.  So although it was elevated off the ground, no one would want to sit on that ceramic coldness.  China meets America.  I walked out ecstatic that I had discovered such an incredible bathroom invention.

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