Archive for the ‘Tongue-In-Cheek’ Category

Chinese Caption Contest #438

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

Chinese Caption Contest #438

This one’s obvious… “Short people should not jump over tall fences.”

What do YOU think?

The Foreigner’s Farce of a Physical Exam

Monday, November 9th, 2009

One of the lesser-known complications of getting my Z Visa to work in China was that I needed to have a physical exam done. Without a doctor’s approval of my perfect health, they wouldn’t send my official Letter of Invitation that the Chinese Embassy in Chicago would accept to give out visas. They want to make sure I don’t have any viruses, deformities, or illnesses that’ll infect their people. (I wish I would have known this while I was still employed and insured – but I digress.) Anyways, I found a doctor to do it at the last minute… it took a week for the results to come in, scan them and send them to China. Four weeks later, I had my letter and two weeks after that, I was in China.

Enter the dramatic part of the story.

When I arrived, I discovered that some Chinese doctors don’t trust American doctors. Of course they don’t. And why would they? I would have to have another physical here in a Tianjin clinic. My co-worker said that she didn’t have to have one because she flew in to Beijing instead of Tianjin. How does that work? What’s the difference? If only I knew, I probably could’ve flown to Beijing too and taken the 30 minute bullet train ride here. But now there was no way around it. I needed another doctor’s appointment before I could get my resident’s permit.

And this was unlike any “doctor’s appointment” I’ve ever had before.

First of all, I don’t think there’s such a thing as a family doctor here. You know, the one that you grow up with and you have mutual knowledge of each other’s lives, etc. No, there are too many people to adequately handle that. You just go to some random hospital/clinic, get a form filled out, get fixed up, and you’re out on your own again. Secondly, there are heaps of people who need to get physicals in China. Whether they’re applying for a job, attending a university, or hoping to do some travel, they need to get checked out. Because of that, the physical exam process needed to be streamlined. I was about to find out what that meant.

The day of the “exam” came and I thought I was ready. I had my passport, my shirt, and my dignity… little did I know, I’d only come away with one of those.

Grace, the assistant at my company, came with me to help translate and we hopped in a taxi. When we got there, we started filling out the form and paying for it. It only cost 400 RMB, a little over $50, whereas the one back home mysteriously cost over $500! But let’s not talk about health care costs.

It all starts in a hallway. The hallway was long and poorly-lit, with doors on both sides, opened slightly to let the horrible smells out. Grace handed me a sheet of paper with six blank boxes, all labeled in Chinese characters. Apparently, I was going to need to go into each of the rooms, one by one, and get the different boxes filled out. No need to worry, though, Grace would lead the way! With privacy thrown out the window, we head into the first room.

Immediately, I figured out that this must be the poking room. I sat down, with Grace by my side, and rolled up my sleeve. Fifteen seconds later, we were already leaving. It only took a couple seconds to find my vein, a couple seconds to poke, and a couple more to explain to me that I was the one who needed to hold the cotton ball in place. You see, they didn’t have tape.

The next room had little cups lined up and people grabbing them and going into the bathroom. They came back with their cups filled. I knew what this room was about! Grace sheepishly tried to explain to me what to do, but she couldn’t find the words. I told her that I think I got the idea, grabbed a cup, and followed suit. Then, in front of the whole room (which felt like the whole world), I brought my full cup to the nurse. Two boxes done.

There was a line for the next room, so we moved to a different one. I guess there’s no particular order. Here, I was instructed to lay down on the table and pull my shirt up. Grace graciously turned her back. EKG time. A minute or two later, Grace translated to me to take deep breaths. I did. We were done.

Tumbling E Eye ChartThe next one was an easy one, a vision exam. Ever since my lasik surgery last spring (highly recommended, by the way), I’ve had better-than-perfect vision, so I wasn’t worried about this one… until I saw the eye chart. It didn’t have the English alphabet! I should’ve known! The best way to describe it would be that it had the letter “E” facing all directions: backward “E”s, upward “E”s, downward “E”s, and normal “E”s. Umm? Seeing my confusion, Grace explained to me to motion with my finger which direction the open part was facing. The doctor pointed to one and I pointed up. He pointed to another one and I pointed left. He pointed to a third one and I pointed left again. The doctor smiled and said something. When we left the room, Grace told me that I had perfect vision. Thanks Grace, but I kind of already knew that.

(I’ve since learned that this type of eye chart is called the “Tumbling E” and used for children and people who can’t speak. Interesting? I learn something new every day.)

No line at that one room anymore, so we slowly peaked in. It was our turn. What happened in this room, I’m kind of nervous to write about, because I still don’t understand the what or the why. From what I could tell, there was a bed and one of those monitors that I’ve seen used on pregnant women to check their unborn child’s growth or whatever. What’s that called again? Oh yeah, a freakin’ ultrasound. I tried to tell her that I wasn’t pregnant, but she must not have understood my panicky English. The nurse motioned for me to lay down and pull my shirt up. Grace, again, graciously turned her back, told me it might be cold, and giggled a bit. (FYI Giggling is not cool in these sorts of situations.) The nurse smiled, lathered my stomach region with some goo and rubbed the baby monitor machine over it. Phew! I’m definitely not pregnant. What just happened?

The last room I also thought would be an easy one: X-ray central. I had to go through this vault-sized door while Grace and the doctors stayed on the one side. Once I got into this other room, I could see them all through a window. I honestly felt like I was in a zoo or testing lab or something. Through a speaker, I heard Grace say to stand on the platform and to not move. So, I stood on the platform, perfectly still. The machine behind me started moving up but stopped around my lower back. The doctors and nurses gasped, and Grace started to giggle again. Great! What now? Dangit, I was too tall for their x-ray machine! Figures. Grace told me to squat down a bit while they took the picture. So, with cell phone in pocket, I wobbly squatted while they examined my chest cavity. Done.

With all six boxes finished, we turned the sheet of paper back in to the front desk and I signed my life away. In all, it was only about a 20 minute process and I now understand what streamline means. Grace had to take my passport to finish my residency permit application and I lost my dignity somewhere in Room #2. I only came away with my goo-covered shirt.

I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.

Top Ten Random Treasures Left Behind In My New Apartment

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

I’m finally somewhat settled into my new apartment here in Tianjin. (Well, except that the washing machine was broken and the landlord refused to pay for it for the longest time because he thought I had broken it when I touched one of the buttons and he was going to charge 700 RMB to fix it, until a Chinese friend, Grace, explained to him that it was already broken. We should be getting a new second-hand one soon.) (UPDATE: The new second-hand washer arrived today… but without any delivery/mover guys. Guess who had to help carry a washing machine up four flights of stairs!? You guessed it, me. At least my clothes will be clean now.)

And some advice for finding and moving into an apartment in China: don’t do it. I’m only half kidding: just like you would in America, be sure to test every appliance, every light switch, every power outlet, and every faucet. Look behind dressers and under beds. Scour the place and make a list of things that the landlord needs to fix and clean before you’ll agree to rent it. Also, make sure things are well-communicated between the two of you. I had to sign a contract that was entirely in Chinese characters. Hopefully I didn’t get any more than I bargained for. I shouldn’t need to worry about where I’ll be living for another ten months or so, ensha’allah.

Anyways, after I had moved in and started cleaning things and arranging things how I wanted them, I made some strange discoveries. Here’s an epic list of those discoveries in order of least to most random, with pictures. Enjoy.

Tied for #10 – A Dartboard

The dartboard isn’t so random, I guess, but it begs the question what’s wrong with it? I have no clue. I’ll definitely be hanging this somewhere.

#10 - Dartboard

Tied for #10 – Shuttlecocks & Ping Pongs

Badminton and table tennis are two of the biggest sports here so these aren’t so random, either. They might even come in handy someday!

#10 - Shuttlecocks & Ping Pongs

#9 – Decks of Playing Cards

But not just any playing cards, these are “Lao Qiang”(?) and 100 dollar bill playing cards. These are keepers. Wanna come over and suit up sometime? Guys night on the 4th floor.

#9 - Decks of Playing Cards

#8 – The Ugliest Wall-Hanging Puzzle. Ever.

This is currently hanging in the “living room”… but not for long. Why so ugly? As G.O.B. would say, “Come on!”

#8 - The Ugliest Wall-Hanging Puzzle Ever

#7 – Chinese Karaoke VCDs

Well, this is China and they do love their karaoke here… but what use will I have for these? By the way, I went to KTV for the first time since being back. I loved it! Remind me to tell you about it later.

#7 - Chinese Karaoke VCDs

#6 – Precious Moments Calendar

This was hanging in my bedroom. (And I stress “was.”) But the random thing is it’s from 2003! Is that the last time someone’s lived here? Probably. Trash.

#6 - Precious Moments Calendar

#5 – A Killer Shell Collection

A bag full of shells was underneath my bed. Great. I think I’ll use these for decorating. Or throw them off my balcony.

#5 - A Killer Shell Collection

#4 – A Huge Kite

I guess a kite by itself isn’t so random, but a kite the size of an entire room!? I was going to try and fly it but then the weather changed. I’ll have to wait till spring to take this baby for a test drive. Where will I store it, though?

#4 - A Huge Kite

#3 – Three Bottles of Wine

Yay for me! Free wine is always nice. But why would someone leave it behind? Does it taste bad? Wine gets better with time, right? It’s probably been here for years.

#3 - Three Bottles of Wine

#2 – A Bunch of Tiny Toy Figures

This is one of my favorites, actually, because the first thing I imagined doing with them is some kind of stop-motion short-film. I’ll keep you posted.

#2 - A Bunch of Tiny Toy Figures

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Chinese Caption Contest #434

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

Chinese Caption Contest #434

I think it says, “When God calls, you’d better step on it.”

What do YOU think?

Chinese Caption Contest #431

Saturday, October 24th, 2009

Chinese Caption Contest #431

I recognize a couple of the characters, but I have absolutely no idea what the crap this is trying to say… maybe, “Don’t try and drink your car – it might break your glass.”

What do YOU think it means?