My internet service contract lapsed five months ago and it took me this long to work up the courage to try and get things straightened out even though the actual service wasn't interrupted. Spent two hours today with my interpreter in an unsuccessful attempt to get a new contract and it reminded me of the last time I did this about two years ago.
Back then I took my interpreter and we had to go to the wrong place because it's not possible to go to the right place at the beginning of the quest. First you have to go to the wrong place so they can tell you where the right place is. It's not possible to discover this information prior to arrival because that would be the future. Like microbiology, the future does not exist here.
Went to the right place. Why you here? Just call the guy, no need to come all the way down here. Shit, how long it take you. Must be more than one hour on the bus, hah. Yah.
We called the guy, not the installer, not the technician, but some kind of Amway, multi-level marketing internet distribution guy. He comes to my place the next evening with his Silent Starer and I've got two interpreters now 'cause I'm determined.
I have all the equipment, was using a different provider up until a few weeks ago, should able to just flip a switch. I already know everything for the new provider: the price, the speed, the length of service contract, etc. I've just got to pay this guy. He comes in with his Silent Starer so it won't be easy for us to chop him into pieces without someone getting off a scream.
I offer water. Offering means pouring into glasses and placing them before the guests. You can't just say, "Do you want some water?" Hah! No takers.
He sits down, Silent Starer remains standing, finger waiting to press the third digit for the cops. Amway internet man begins talking about something, probably durian futures in Malaysia or maybe the price of tea in India. No idea since I don't speak much Mandarin. I interrupt, ask my interpreter to ask if I need to sign anything, show my passport, any paperwork? No, let's get back to talking durian for another 30 minutes.
I keep standing up with 1100 RMB in my hand and physically try and put it into the Amway internet distributor's paw. He manages to elude me like a Wing Chun Sifu every time and continues his treatise on how fresh the air is next to the mountain.
"Really? I live next to a mountain? Gee, I never noticed." Every Chinese person I've met the past 8 years tells me how fresh the air is where I live next to the mountain. This is Guangzhou. There hasn't been any fresh air here for about 20 years.
I keep trying to give him money. He indirectly refuses every time, continuously wiping his forehead with a red bandana and making polite gestures to prevent receiving the money. The guy is good. I never seen anybody so good at refusing money.
I ask my interpreters to inquire as to why he won't take my money. He answers something about paperwork. What paperwork do we need to do? "What paperwork indeed," he replies. Continues wiping his forehead while talking and dodging my money.
I keep expecting the Silent Starer to remove a scooby doo mask and reveal Alan Fundt or Geraldo Rivera doing a bit on "How far can we push the laowai before he goes insane?" but the mask never comes off and somehow I avoid apoplexy. After a half hour of this, the Amway man rises, announces that if we can't pay him now it's all right, he'll come back tomorrow evening as he dodges me again.
I'm sorry, I realize I should just wear a body camera so you'd be able to see for yourselves.
Both my interpreters are paralyzed by the Chinese-ness of it all. Somehow the Amway internet man let's us understand that I should hand the money to my interpreter and then from the interpreter to him. We do it. He maintains the continuity of the circle and hands it back to me, asking me to count it again.
"Are you sure it's eleven hundred?" he asks.
"Yes," I reply, following his gestures to give it to my interpreter again, and then to the Amway man, who suddenly acknowledges payment, pockets the cash, drinks one ml of the water glass before him, makes a few parting remarks about other exotic southeast Asian fruit, and finally leaves with Silent Starer in tow.
This story is true and none of the names have been changed. Really. I doubt this was the most frustrating thing that I experienced that week, but it was the most memorable.
It's not me. It's them, right? It's got to be them.
Last edited by Michael
on Wed Jan 23, 2013 5:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
The more you love, the more you live.