Thursday, October 10, 2013

What a Difference a Dou Makes

I imagine (in my delusional way) that my many readers are waiting anxiously for the next installment of Debbie Versus the Bureaucracy.

So here's the rest of the story. Actually, in China, it's never the rest of the story but I'll get to that later.

The Wall Street Journal office manager, the amazing Kersten, took pity on me when I told her yesterday about my experience at the PSB. And so she ordered up Mr. Dou, the Wall Street Journal driver, to take me first to the local police and then back to the PSB to finish up the visa process, less for the driving and more for the translation and guanxi (relations) Dou has with the bureaucrats.

Dou is a cheery, slightly heavyset guy who makes the assumption that anyone who can speak a few words of baby Chinese is fluent and he can just speak to them at a normal pace. But the best method for Dou is just to follow him and hope that it all works out.

First stop was the police station, where he parked and marched in, knowing exactly where to bring all my papers. He immediately started chatting up a police woman, most likely doing a little flirting too since she had a smile on her face the whole time. Five minutes later, we were back in the car.

Next was the Public Security Bureau. This time Dou parked about a block away and then walked so fast to the PSB that I nearly had to run to catch up.

"Ni hen kuai!" I said to him. (You're very fast.) "Zhonguoren zuo lu hen maan," I said. (To those who actually speak Chinese, apologies for slaughtering the language.) Chinese people usually walk slowly.

Dou immediately slowed down.

When we got in the PSB, Dou tried to use his connections to jump the line, but I actually knew more than he did at this point, and caught the eye of the young woman who dealt with me yesterday. And ten minutes later, she had taken both my old and new passports and told me to come back in a week.

After that, I'm supposed to go back to the police to do something to update my residency again, but I think that should work out okay. I mean, what could possibly go wrong?

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