My grandma helped raise me from the age of zero to 10. She loved to watch soap operas. She was also deaf. So I was her translator.
“ARE THEY TOGETHER???” She’d ask whenever a man and woman appeared onscreen.
“NO!” I’d yell in her ear. “SHE’S MARRIED TO HIS BROTHER!”
Then a few episodes later, those two would be sleeping together.
I guess the deaf are just better at reading body language…
I learned that in soaps, when shit happens, it hits the fan! Just when you think it couldn’t get worse, it does. I guess I take that mentality a little too close to heart. So if I get a little overdramatic sometimes…blame it on the soaps.
The Canadian passport expires every 5 years, and mine was about to expire in October. No big deal, all I had to do was renew it at the Canadian Consulate in Shanghai.
So I made an appointment, printed out the express renewal form, and headed down to the consulate conveniently located at Jingan Temple. After handing in all required documents, I patiently waited for the lady to finish processing and thought about what I wanted for lunch. Burritos and frozen yogurt.
“Hmm, your passport says Heilongjiang as your birth city.”
“Yes, I was born in China.” I replied politely while secretly annoyed that she’s wasting my burrito time with chitchat.
“I’m pretty sure that’s a province, not a city.” She then went on her computer to google it.
“Well, maybe.” I was confused why it even mattered.
“Yep! That’s a province.” She looked back and I felt so stupid.
“It was 5 years ago….Guess I wasn’t too careful… The consulate in Canada didn’t notice either!” I tried to make myself seem less stupid.
“Ha, that’s probably because they didn’t know the difference.” She shook her head, “Unfortunately because of this error, you cannot use the express renewal process.”
“Are you…serious? It’s such a small mistake…” I was flabbergasted.
“Sorry, it’s just the policy. Here.” She handed me another form “You must go through the normal procedure. Oh, and you also need to find a guarantor.”
What the hell is a guarantor? I thought as I skimmed through this new form.
Long story short, because I was doing the renewal in China, I needed to find a guarantor who can vouch for me (say that I’m not a serial killer basically). BUT it can’t be just anybody! It must be either a judge, a dean of a university, a police officer, a magistrate, etc.
“This is ridiculous! I don’t know anybody like that!!!” I started freaking out.
“I’m sure you can think of someone that fits the description.”
“I don’t know any veterinarian or magistrate!!!” I was now definitely shouting “What the hell is a magistrate anyway???”
“Ma’am, calm down.” She started to eye the security guard, “Please go sit down over there. There are other people in line.”
I slowly stumbled over to the couches and called the first person I could think of, my mother.
“Mommy! They are being mean to me!!!” I told her the whole story while cursing in Chinese “This is such fucking stupid bureaucratic bullshit!”
I honesty don’t know how I didn’t get arrested right then and there…
After I left the Consulate General, I went home and started messaging everyone I knew.
“Hey, please let me know if you know a_____ (I listed all the eligible professions). If not, I cannot renew my passport and will get deported back to Canada. So it’s been nice knowing you! Goodbye!”
The amount of responses I got were overwhelming. The good thing about a crisis is that it unites people, and lets you find out who your real friends are.
Helen freaked out as well “Sis don’t go!!! I need you!!! I’ll ask everyone I know ok??? Don’t worry!!!”
Joseph met up with me in person, and asked for the details. After listening intently, he said he has a cousin who might be able to help. He called her right away.
“She couldn’t talk now, but agreed to meet me tomorrow. I will ask her then.” He promised.
“Yep. I’m getting deported.” I sighed dramatically.
“Don’t get deported.” He smiled “You’re one of the few people that doesn’t annoy me.”
I was caught off guard, and probably looked really surprised.
“Too much! That doesn’t annoy me too much…” He cleared his throat, “Is what I meant…”
“Oh…my…GOD!” I paused for dramatic effect “That’s the…nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me!!! Why I loooooooove you too!!!!”
“Shut up….” He blushed.
We started laughing and I was temporarily back to my normal jokey self.
A lot of other people tried to help, but most of them were unable to find magistrates either. Seriously, what the hell is a magistrate???
In the end, it was my mom that came through. Yep, moms are all powerful. She knew a church friend who knew a church friend. In exchange, I had to go to church once a week. Whatever you say God/Mom!
After all that fiasco, I found out (through another blog) that I could have just paid $300 to avoid the guarantor process. I think the lady at the consulate mentioned it, but I was too busy having a panic attack to listen….
Whatever, saved myself $300.
“Let’s go blow that $300 on food and booze!” I said to my friends. “Thank you all for your attempts to help! Except for you Charles… You just made jokes! You are CUT!!!”
“Yeah, let’s go celebrate!” Julien messaged back “Hasan’s roommate from the States is coming in tonight. How bout we meet them at Lost Heaven?”
You know that episode on Friends where Rachel meets Paolo? Sparks flew right away. It was…
Instant sexual attraction.
Except I never found the cheesy Fabio type attractive. My “Paolo” was not Italian. My Paolo was Asian.
And that’s how I met…. Hasan’s roommate (Aka. My Asian Paolo)