Thursday, May 08, 2008

It's sad when the consulate guards recognize you

Today I had another lovely adventure to the Chinese consulate in NYC. I feel like I always make an adventure out of things. I guess I like to have a story to tell :). I left my apartment around 5:30-5:45. I was determined to get to the consulate really early to wait in line. I was also determined not to be denied once again........well things don't always turn out as planned.......sometimes they are better......and sometimes they are worse. I took off the day today with the intention of being approved for my visa today and picking it up on May 23rd on my way to Maine to visit my family. So back to my story. On my way to Trenton, I wasn't paying attention and I didn't see that my road turned off while I stayed straight. In the normal parts of the United States, this doesn't matter. However, New Jersey is a different story. You can't just get off the highway and get back on in Jersey. You have to drive around and make lots of turns in order to get back on it. So I made it to the train station late (I wanted to catch a train around 6:45 but didn't catch one until 7:30). My train was due to arrive in NYC around 8:40. No problem. I could walk the 15 blocks to the consulate and not arrive too much after it opened. The ride was pretty smooth and uneventful......until the end that is. My train decided to break down near one of the last stops. Ironically, it was one of those new and fancy trains and not one of the old rickety ones. So I got off my train along with my co-riders and walked to another train track to wait for another train to NYC. So people from two trains squished onto one train. I made it to NYC a little after 9. I walked my 15 blocks to the consulate with confidence that my mission would turn out to be a success. I walked through security to get inside and one of the guards said, "You are back again?" This suprised me because they see thousands of people there each week and it had been 10 days since my last visit. I decided that I had spent too much time there if I was being recognized by the security guard. Inside I was told I didn't have to take a number and wait for 5 hours like everyone else because I had been there already and was told to return to the same window. I couldn't believe it. I starting planning my trip back in my head and arriving home around lunchtime. I was being given the gift of half of a day. I was wrong of course and soon had my hopes squashed when I gave the consulate worker my info. The extra info they had requested was: a copy of my bank statement, a letter from my employer saying that I had vacation during my scheduled time in China, and a letter from Marc saying he had invited me and where I would be staying, etc. I proudly handed the woman all of this information. She had the nerve to tell me that my letter from Marc wasn't good enough!!! He had emailed me a letter and I had printed it out. She said that it had to be an original or a faxed copy. I told her that it was an original. She wanted me to show her the envelope it came in because it would have to have a stamp from China in order for her to accept it. I told her it was an original that he had sent through email. Well needless to say, she did not approve my visa yet again. I left the consulate mad and very irritated. I did not even know how I would ever be able to return to NYC for a third time to get the visa and then a fourth time to pick it up. I felt defeated and ready to give up when the "Nina stubbornness" kicked in. I know y'all pick on my stubbornness, but sometimes it works to my advantage. So my brain started working and I decided what I needed was Marc and a fax machine. Both difficult tasks considering I was in NYC and Marc was on the other side of the world. I decided to call the Yerringtons (Marc's parents) to see if they could reach him on Skype (for those of you who don't know, you can talk to anyone in the world for free using the internet). Their line was busy. I tried a few times and still no luck. I decided to call Amy (Marc's sister) even though I knew she was at work. She gave me her mom's cell phone number and we both called her a few times. I then decided to call my dad and have him see if Marc was on Skype. He didn't answer either. I then went to my last brother-in-law. As I was calling him, Nancy (Marc's mom) called me. She got on Skype and Marc was on!! I was surprised because it was around his bedtime. Nancy talked to him and he already knew about it. I guess Amy had called him to let him know. He wasn't sure he could do anything about it because it was 10:30 at night in China. So I was on the phone with Nancy, Nancy was on Skype with Marc, and Marc called Kirk, the director of his school. Kirk agreed to pick Marc up and drive him to the school and unlock the building so he could send me a fax!! And this was all at night. Meanwhile I had to work on problem #2-no fax machine. I began walking into businesses and begging them to let me have a fax sent to them. I finally found a FedEx and they directed me to a FedEx/Kinkos that would let me receive a fax. I waited at the FedEx/Kinkos for 2 hours, fretting that the fax didn't go through. Finally around 12:30 (12:30 in the morning, Marc's time) I got the fax. Unfortunately it was a little messed up when I got it and Marc's signature was cut off. I saw it and was convinced that they wouldn't take it and all the hassle would have been wasted. So I walked the 15 blocks back to the consulate to try it all over again. I went to my buddy at the window and she sent me to someone else. I was resistant at first because I didn't want to have someone else to change the rules on me again. Finally I followed the new person and it turned out to be a blessing. She barely looked at Marc's letter and approved it right away. She asked me when I was going to pick it up. I told her May 23rd. As I was leaving, she mentioned that I could pick it up after 2 p..m. the same day if I paid an extra $30. It was 1:15 by this point so I decided that waiting 45 minutes or so and an extra $30 was worth never stepping foot inside that place again. As I was waiting yet again, I met some people who were equally as annoyed as I was. One of them has been going to China twice a year on business and never has had such a hassle. He mentioned that he had gotten there at 6 .m. and there was already a long line to get in (Reminder: it opened at 9!!). Another guy had driven from Albany and was told his first time that he had to provide more info just like I had to. The next day he went back and went to a different window. He gave the new person the same exact info he had given the person the day before and got approved this time. I guess that proves that the rules can change at any given time. I tell you what, I did meet some interesting people. People get a little crazy when cooped up in a crowded space for 5-6 hours. Some people were mad and yelling. I even saw someone who had been there 10 days ago. It's extra sad when you recognize someone from a previous day. When 2 o'clock came around, I stood in another line for pick up. I got up to the window and was told to wait 10 more minutes. I circle around to the end of the line and get back to the window again. I was told again to wait 10 more minutes. I did this comical circle for several times until finally I was told that it was ready. At this point I was given a number and told to stand in ANOTHER line so I could pay. So yep, that's my experience. The trip back was unremarkable except the train conductor's name was Caldwell. I thought that was a perfect name for a train conductor. So moral of the story: Don't go to China unless you REALLY REALLY want to. Although it was a hassle, it turned out to be a blessing. I was able to get it today and I don't have to worry about going back to pick up my visa. It's amazing how God worked out all of the little details so I could get it today. He never ceases to amaze me.


At 3:48 AM, Blogger Beccalynn said...

That was a roller coaster of a story.
Did I tell you I'm coming May 17th? I'll be going with Ashley to JoMar (that is if you can direct us there) to pick out some fabric for a wedding dress I'm not even sure she wants me to make anymore and then to a four hour class from 1-4. Then, in the summer, I'll need to stay with you the week of July 19th becuase she decided to condense the class into one week which is fine with me :-) Is that possible though? I know Lynette's movning out so I dont' even know where you'll be at that point in time. If not I'll ask Laura I guess. I might have to call you on my way to work and I'm sorry because I knwo that's your devo time.....well see...

At 4:23 AM, Blogger Jessica said...

Your experiences ARE great stories, Nina! Always! I regret that that means you have to go through some of the weirdest experiences EVER, but they do make for great stories. I'm so glad you were able to get it today! I have to admit that I kind of cringed thinking that you'd have to go back again....and probably go through that whole ordeal again. God is so good!


Post a Comment

<< Home