Every time I think "they couldn't get any stupider..."
Every time I think "now I've seen it all; the double-helix of incompetence and corruption couldn't wind any tighter than that..."
Every time I think "there is absolutely no way these putrid, drooling, slobbering, knuckle-dragging, butt-scratching, rock-banging evolutionary throwbacks could possibly get any more ridiculous than that, no matter how hard they try..."
...They prove me wrong.
But enough about the Democrat Party. Let's talk about the Chinese. They're even worse. Today was proof of that.
DISCLAIMER: 1) Language Warning. 2) Non-Academic Rant Ahead
As I have mentioned in articles before, my children live in their homeland, the Philippines. I, meanwhile, live in a backward, smog-choked frozen third-world hell of crumbling buildings, scheming provincial pigs and feces-lined streets called Beijing. And every month I send $1,000 USD (minus the transfer fee of $22) to the Philippines to provide for my kids. That amount wouldn't go far back in the West, but it's around 53,000 Philippine Pesos: more than enough to make ends meet in rural Quezon Province. I do this through Western Union. However, since finding an actual Western Union branch in Beijing is like trying to find the evidence of this alleged "quid pro quo" Pelosi and Schiff keep talking about, I have to go through China Postal Savings Bank (sometimes written as Postal Savings Bank of China, due to inconsistent translation of the Chinese name), a bank that offers Western Union services to account holders.
This, on the best of days, is a logistical nightmare.
For starters, getting to the bank is only possible when I am not at work, and I have to go to my regular bank, China Minsheng, to exchange the money first. However, since there is a $500 daily limit on currency exchanges, exchanging enough RMB to get $1,000 is a two-day process, requiring a bank trip both days. Then, from there, I go to Postal Savings Bank to make the actual transfer. Of course, I have never found a place where these two banks have branches near each other, and both banks typically have lines long enough for a dynasty to rise and fall.
Then there is the additional layer of fuck-uppery that comes from dealing with CPSB at all.
This bank is not known for the competence of their staff, and when faced with any procedure that is not the rote routine they go through every day, the Chinese in general tend to panic and freeze up. It should go without saying that an American walking into a bank almost exclusively used by the Chinese, trying to send money to a country most of the Chinese can't find on a map except when they're looking for a place to destroy on their next vacation, is not a routine procedure for them. The majority of them have rarely seen a US dollar (the currency all international transactions from within China are measured in), and fewer still could even tell you what a Peso is. Add to this the mind-numbing amount of paperwork that any financial operation in China requires and what you have is a process that takes 45 minutes from the time I get to the counter, IF the idiot teller gets everything right the first time (and for the record, that rarely happens).
Typically, I make a bet with my karate instructor before going to see how many times the fucking goblins who work here are going to misspell my name or the recipient's name and (and consequently have to start the entire damned process over to fix it) before it is finally done. The average for 2019 has been 3 times per bank trip.
Well, today's attempt to send money to my children and their mother was a new level of WTF-ology, even for China.
"I Need the Recipient's Address" "...No, You Don't."
I have been through this process once a month for several years now. It's something of a well-known routine for me. So well-known, in fact, that I am typically the one who has to use what little Chinese I know to walk the bank teller through the necessary steps (which must be humiliating for the confused bank teller, having their job explained to them by someone who doesn't even read enough Hanzi cave-drawings to be able to decipher the forms I'm explaining). As a result, I am always ready with the next form filled out before the teller reaches for their translator to explain what the form is or what information is needed for it. I know exactly what information they need, and in what blanks.
But today, the teller asked for a bit of information they had never needed before: the recipient's street address.
When I explained that this had never been necessary before, the teller scratched his neck sheepishly and offered this bit of Chinglish: "ah... Wessa-tan Yoo-na-yen, ah... dei chen-ja da seesa-tem (Western Union, they change the system)."
First of all, bullshit.
Western Union's entire business model for decades has been built on the ability to send money in an emergency, such as if someone is stranded. Rare indeed is a Western Union transfer that is actually picked up by a recipient who is anywhere near their home address. And just to confirm, I took out my cell phone and checked Western Union's website. Of course, there is nowhere on it where the recipient's street address is required.
Secondly, the address structure of residential barangays in the Philippines won't even fit into the blanks provided in China Postal Savings Bank's system.
And third, excuse me but there is no fucking way on God's green Earth that I, a dissident writer whose bread-and-butter is exposing the crimes of the Chinese government, am going to hand the street address of my children who live in a country vulnerable to Chinese predations, to a Chinese government agency (which every bank in China is). Anne-Marie Brady's lessons were not lost upon me (Roy).
So I simply shook my head, showed the cell phone to the teller, and said in a mockery of his own bad English, "No, dey no chen-ja da seesa-tem."
The teller tried to explain something to me in machine-gun Mandarin, and I nodded for a few minutes until he was finished before casually asking "ni juede wo ting dong nage ma (do you think I understood that)?"
Anyway, fast forward through 25 minutes of arguing with this muppet AND his idiot boss, before I finally rolled my eyes and said "fine, fine. Give me my things," and reached toward the pass slot. That was when the teller crossed his arms, leaned back in his chair and shook his head.
Now, for clarity, $1,000 USD, cash, which I had set aside to send to my children, were sitting there on this maggot's desk, along with my CPSB account card and my passport. And the explanation, in Chinglish, on camera, in front of the bank manager and a room full of witnesses, was "ah no geeva yoo (I no give you)," which he emphasized by clamly putting all of the money, the card and the passport into an envelope and sliding them under the desk.
This was the point where I bolted up from the chair and reached into my coat for the collapsible baton I usually carry (you can't find them in Beijing but they're easy enough to get in Wuhan or Tangshan and train security is a joke), only to find I'd left it at home because I don't carry it to work (I work at a school). The bank guard came over, but as most bank guards in China are geriatric old men so scrawny that the armored vest they wear looks like two pieces of bread without much of a sandwich in between them, it didn't take much more than glaring down at him (he stood a little less than shoulder high, making him tall for the Chinese) one time to make him back off.
However, scaring the shit out of the guard was getting me no closer to getting the money or my passport. So, I called the police and report the sonofabitch for theft. I didn't know the patrol station's number (or even which of Beijing's hundreds of patrol stations was even responsible for this area), so I picked up my phone and dialed "110*(1)."
Your Emergency is Very Important to Us. Please Hold.
Predictably, I got a quick answer from a Chinese cop who spoke ZERO English. After spending the next ten minutes explaining several times, in Mandarin, "no, I do not speak Chinese. Yes, I am a foreigner. Yes, I know this is the police. I need someone who can speak English," the cop finally recited the only English phrase he knew (in admittedly reasonable pronunciation), "plez, wait a moment."
And I found myself listening to on-hold music not unlike what you'd hear when calling Pizza Hut.
I would like to just remind the reader that this was China's equivalent of calling 911. Imagine if it had been an actual emergency.
Anyway, after nearly 10 minutes, I got an answer from a cop who spoke... eh, let's call it "English with Chinese characteristics," and explained the situation...
...then explained it again... and again, until after the fourth explanation he managed to glean "foreigner at bank need cop." So he asked me what the address was.
I had no clue. China's street address system isn't even structured the same way as the US, and even if I understood that, the street signs in most of Beijing are exclusively in Hanzi characters: no Pinyin. The cop's brilliant solution? He tells me to hand the phone to the bank teller so he can ask him what the address is. You know, the same bank teller who is committing the crime I'm calling about.
After explaining that this was not possible, I finally found one person in the lobby who showed enough brain activity that I could hand the phone to them and let the cop ask them for the address. Seven minutes of laughing and chit-chatting later, the guy hands my phone back to me and the cop says "oh-fee-sa comma to yoo; yoo wetta momen-ta."
So I waited.
Thirty minutes passed, and the police station called me back, asking "yes, you calla he-ya? What we canna do faw yoo?" In some confusion, I explained that I had already spoken to the police some time before, and had been assured an officer was coming. The response was "yessa, but-ah... we no unda-standa yoo."
The original call was at 3:25. The first English-speaking cop picked up at 3:35. It was now 4:07. And the cop was calling me back to say "wait, what?"
Again, let me stress this: this was a 110 call! This was the police force's emergency assistance number.
This happened twice more, before finally, after the phone rang showing the same number at 4:41, a distinctly female voice on the other end of the line said in reasonable English "Sir, I unda-stand you are an-ga-lee and have explenna tees before. If I am yoo, I am an-ga-lee too, but I have no hear you explanation yet. Teesa new to me. Unda-stan-da plez?"
As an ex-cop, I gotta give her credit for verbal judo. She managed to calm me down... at least enough to speak slowly in overenunciated English with short and simple sentences.
It was this, the fact that I was speaking in very slow, deliberate and simple English, peppered with a little Mandarin when all else failed, that finally clued the teller (and the lobby manager, who was now standing there) in on the fact that I was, in fact, on the phone with the cops. I can only surmise it was this, and the realization "having cops crawling all over the lobby with an angry foreigner standing in the lobby screaming in rage and shouting at our teller while his passport is on the other side of the glass might be bad publicity," and the boss barked some orders in Mandarin at the teller. I didn't understand much, but I picked out the words "gei ta (give him)" several times over while the boss frantically pointed between the desk and me." At that point the teller passed me my money, passport and card.
Well, I explained to the cop "thank you, you have already solved the problem just by being on the phone, there is no need for further help." I was a bit caught off guard when she giggled and asked for my WeChat ID saying "I add-a yoo lei-ta," but whatever.
Now, let's review.
A bank teller, on dozens of cameras, in front of dozens of witnesses, gave me a bullshit reason why he could not make a transfer, and then in front of the same eyes, brazenly tried to steal $1,000 cash and my passport, right out in the open.
This makes no damned sense, even by Chinese standards. What in all the Hells ever conceived by the mind of God or Man did this paint-sniffing, cock-juggling, rice-dicked little troll hope to fucking accomplish?! Did he seriously think I was going to simply shrug and say "oh well," and walk away? Did he think he was going to deny he did it, when he did it in front of that many cameras?
...Eh, come to think of it, considering that there is no law in China other than "laowai bad, Zhonghua good," that might actually have been his plan and it might have worked. I can easily foresee the bank manager simply saying "sorry, all cam-ah-laz brekka. We no see watta happen."
But seriously, what point and purpose did this God-damnable tapdance of what-the-fuck-ism actually serve for the teller? This wasn't just corruption. It wasn't just stupidity. It was like watching a Special Needs class running Tammany Hall.
And when all was said and done (meaning much more had been said than done), my children and their mother are STILL waiting on this money.
This country never fucking ceases to astound me.
(1) Instead of 911, China has a separate emergency number for police, fire, or medical rescue. 110 is for the police, 119 for firefighters, and 999 for an ambulance. If you need more than one type of first responder, you have to make multiple calls because there is no central dispatch.
Roy, Eleanor Ainge. "'I'm Being Watched': Anne-Marie Brady, the China Critic Living in Fear of Beijing." The Guardian. 23 Jan, 2019. Web. 23 Dec, 2019. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jan/23/im-being-watched-anne-marie-brady-the-china-critic-living-in-fear-of-beijing