Meanwhile, back in the salt mine

In the midst of this spectacular Chinese medical care we have received, we still find reasons to smile and think, “TIC!”  {In case you have forgotten, TIC = This Is China, the only plausible response to some experiences}

I had a somewhat urgent mission at school.  Some of our grade 12s are applying to American universities which require that the graduating high school have a code assigned by a board which essentially demonstrates that ours is a viable school–or something like that.  I filled out the form 2 weeks ago and started what I thought would be a fairly straight-forward process of getting it notarized.  Chandler, one of the three Chinese English-speaking teachers who work in our school, has a car so he drew the short straw to take me to the notary office and do the translation.

Trip one:  all eight chairs in the waiting area are taken and a large group crowds the front “reception” desk, where they jostle for position.  One man stands behind the desk and randomly selects proffered documents from one customer at a time.  He looks them over, loudly asks questions and decides whether they will be allowed to pass through a set of glass doors to the inner sanctum wherein reside the notaries (nearly 30 of them in all, judging by the pictures on the wall).  If not, they are apparently told to get things in order and come back.  If yes, he reaches back to a machine behind the reception desk, pulls a number from it, gives it with the papers back to the owner whereupon they join the queue  to see the notary.  It is a stressful job for this man, as you can imagine. Not everyone is happy to be told to come back.  Meanwhile, near the far end of the reception desk sits a young woman whose sole job seems to be to press the button to activate the sliding glass doors.  Not a stressful position, as you can imagine.

Chandler reaches the front of the line and attempts to explain to our man what the form is for, who I am and what I need.  He is not pleased about it, offers an opinion then calls for a young woman who can speak some English. She comes out, listens to the man, listens to Chandler, looks at me.  I smile and try to look like I could be the principal of a school.  After three or four minutes of discussion, the verdict is  that our documents –my passport, business card, application form–are not enough.  I must come back with something that proves the school is a viable operation.

Trip Two:  repeat the welcoming scene of the first experience.  We wait our turn and now proffer additional documents–a letter from the ‘Big School’ with which we are affiliated, stamped with their official red seal stating the BC Offshore School is a legal operation, sanctioned by the government of China; another letter legitimizing the Big School, dates of start-up of both schools, etc.  Another round of scrutiny precedes the call for the English-speaking girl.  This time we are told that we need to provide proof that I am the principal of the school.  We argue a bit but we know we are at the mercy of the man with the number machine.

In the car ride with Chandler to make our third trip to the office of the notary, we had a conversation.  “Chandler,” I said, “just so you know, if he doesn’t let us in to see a notary today, I am going to make a scene.”  “A scene?” says Chandler, “What is a scene?”  So, I describe in detail how I am going to make a fuss, raise my voice, maybe call a few people names, stamp my feet and in general, insist that three trips is enough and that we MUST see a notary today.  He smiles and waits a good few minutes before he says, “Do you remember the first day when we were waiting our turn, when the man got very angry?”  Yes, indeed.  It was because one of the notaries had come out and chastised him, saying he had let people through who didn’t have the correct papers.   I understand that his job is crazy and  highly-pressured and explain to Chandler how he could at least create some order which would decrease his stress IF he moved the ticket machine in to the reception area.  He could still retain his control but at least calm the chaos.  “Who is this guy anyway?  Is he a notary?  Is he trained? educated?  I want to talk to a notary to give and get clear direction.”  Chandler gets my point, then I say, “You and I could make a run for it when the doors open.  We could run into the nearest office and refuse to leave until we get service!” Hmmm, maybe not.

Trip Three:  welcome area, same same, but IT’S A DIFFERENT GUY behind the desk!   Chandler makes the case and we get a number!  We pass through the doors in record time and are ushered into an office somewhat reminiscent of Dickens, with papers piled high on two desks, and two notaries, presumably, looking at us.  This time I have my contract, stating that I, Terry D. Watt,  am in the principal of the school, Jiaxing Senior High School, starting 2012 till June 2015.  The Big School has provided additional clarifying documents.  I wait while Chandler makes the case, then am told that what happened would depend on whether notarizing the application form was to prove that I was who I said I was OR that I was the school principal.  “What’s the right answer?” I asked Chandler.  He told me, he told them, we moved ahead, then 15 minutes later I was told that in 15 business days, we could pick up the notarized papers.   Hold the phone!  What?!  Yes, they have to send to another department to get the correct paper to create the notarized document.  I am sure I am missing something but no, after a detailed explanation, Chandler assures me that this is the process, it must be on a particular type of paper, etc.  I looked at them a said, “Look, this is an application form.  Once I have your signature and stamp on this, I am going to scan it into my computer and email to the US.  Nobody is going to care about the paper.  The paper will never see the light of day.”  Too bad, so sad, TIC.  I am actually told This Is China, this is how it is done.  The best they can do is 8 working days.

My next big problem will be when the college code people get this letter in Mandarin and my application form, lacking a notary’s signature.

(Ed. note: You know I said updates would be irregular? Well this is the first irregular one. 

I am still at home recovering – although it doesn’t feel like recovery. I think it is the combination of the nine drugs I am presently taking which leaves my stomach feeling nauseous, although I am never sick.
On Thursday evening I felt quite a bit of pain in my chest and back so we decided to go back to the hospital to have it checked out. My blood pressure was fine as was my heart rate. They took blood and the first test one came back no problem. The second one however showed that I have cardiogenic pulmonary oedema, which, according to wikipedia, means fluid accumulation in the air spaces and parenchyma of the lungs. It leads to impaired gas exchange and may cause respiratory failure. It is due to the failure of the left ventricle of the heart to adequately remove blood from the pulmonary circulation. They kept me overnight for observation and let me come home yesterday morning – thank God, since I was coming no matter what why said. I had two terrible roommates! They adjusted my medication and told me not to drink so much water. I am assuming this will clear it up.
I am continuing to experience the same pain – although it feels more like I pulled a muscle in my chest trying to burp. It is going to be a much longer recovery than I thought, which is a little demoralising. Terry continues to be a rock through all of this.
So now you are up-to-date and I am going to rest.)



5 thoughts on “Meanwhile, back in the salt mine

  1. Kim

    I’m so sorry to hear that you are still having a few problems. Hang in there, listen to Terry, and keep resting! We want you both back here in one piece!

  2. mary thomas

    Take heart my boy !!!! This may sound heartless and even verging on nagging ( me ???), but you must stay positive !!!! Pretend you are playing baseball and sing to yourself, “You gotta have Heart”. Just let full recovery take its time and fine its way to a mans heart. Be glad you did not leave your heart in San Francisco and that you have it in Jiaxing… you know, home is where the heart is after all. Yes, Geoff, you had a bit of an AChy Breaky Heart but obviously you took in all those fake market Chinese lady vendors influence when they shouted out in their pidgeon English…*Hey…You bleaky my heart ” you cheapskate. Haha. If I could, I would at this moment be rippling the piano keys to Heart and Soul with Bruce C. playing the bottom keys as background music while you read this. Seriously… these words are spoken with heartfelt thoughts. I have even taken your advice NOT to eat my heart out and to watch my consumption of fat and sugars. Hard to trick a cheating heart with Xmas baking coming up. Cross my heart…I will try harder. Thanks for letting me have this heart to heart chat with you. Hope this brings a smile to know. Hugs from Mary. Yes, I agree, I am a bit of a little sweetheart !!!!!


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