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Published: September 18th 2010
Greetings all - it's been a while! I've spent a wonderful summer at home, visiting friends and family, and traveling to Europe. September is here, accompanied by cooler weather and the inevitable acceleration of the pace of life. And I have a job!
Wait, let me say that again.
I HAVE A JOB!!!
After several months of traipsing to interviews, trailing resume paper behind me and exuding general angst and grumpiness, the search is over. I got a job working for Digitas, which conducts digitally-focused advertising all over the world. And here's the best part: the job is in Hong Kong! The big start date isn't until November 1, so I decided to spend this interval of free time back in Kunming.
In preparation, I took a trip to New York to obtain a tourist visa for mainland China (Hong Kong and the mainland have different immigration systems and passports). I arrived at the consulate bright and early in the morning, and there were no problems... until I met my visa officer.
"Passport," she snapped. I handed her the passport.
"Form," she growled. I handed her the form.
"Visa copies," she grunted. I thought I had handed her the forms already, and inquired as to whether I'd already given them to her.
"You didn't give them to me. Why are you being so rude?" she asked.
"Sorry?" I said.
"I asked why you're being rude."
"I'm not being rude," I replied, perplexed.
"Yes you are, you rude girl!" The officer's tone got nasty and she started to raise her voice.
Now, I didn't go into the consulate that morning sprouting tulips, sunflowers, and goodwill from my eyeballs, but neither did I go in sporting an attitude fresher and nastier than Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada. I was in a generally neutral mood, actually, until I encountered the visa officer.
After being accused of rudeness several more times, I finally snapped back at her, "There's no need to be rude!" in Chinese. This, apparently, was the wrong thing to say, because she screamed, "You are such a rude girl! NO VISA FOR YOU. Next!" And she placed my passport next to her behind the counter, refused to process it, and went on to the next person in line.
So this was bad, and it took me a few minutes to register what went down. I realized that being refused a visa was a serious business. Not only would I be unable to go to China as planned, but I might not be able to go to mainland China at all for a very long time, and would have to report the visa rejection at every subsequent application for a visa.
Panicked, I did the only logical thing a woman in my position would do - I scouted out a young, male visa officer, went to his window, and turned on the waterworks.
This, also, was apparently the wrong thing to do. Although he seemed very sympathetic, he told me I had to return to the first officer and work it out with her. I made my way back to her, gritted my teeth, and groveled.
"I am very sorry I was rude," I lied. I tried to placate her, but she was much too snitty and clever for me.
"Did you just go to complain about me?" she yelled. "You should have come back to my window! You should be polite to everybody, all the time!" She was screaming through her microphone, so that the entire consulate could hear her indictment against me. We had everyone's attention. Had you been there, you would have seen an irate, hysterical visa officer screaming at a crying, profusely apologizing Merrill.
She finally gave me instructions:
"Go sit down for half an hour and come back."
"I said go over there! And sit down! And come back in half an hour!"
As if I was the one who needed calming down...
So I sat for a bit, had a minor emotional breakdown, re-entered the line, waited in it for half an hour, and then apologized (again) to the officer in front of incredulous onlookers. Wordlessly, she processed my paperwork. Needless to say, I was angry for several hours after the incident. I'm sure it isn't easy to deal with often obnoxious Americans applying for visas to China, but really - this woman went postal. Phrase of the Day - "Going Postal"
Going postal, in American English slang, means becoming extremely and uncontrollably angry, often to the point of violence, and usually in a workplace environment... Between 1986 and 1997, more than 40 people were gunned down by spree killers in at least 20 incidents of workplace rage. (Wikipedia)
Good thing she didn't have a weapon.
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