Friday, June 29, 2007

T-I-C Angst

This morning I didn't get to work until 10:15am.

That's because I spent over an hour trying to buy electricity. As I mentioned in an earlier posting, you don't get an electricity bill in the mail; you have to buy electricity before you use it. And you need to add money onto a card before sticking it in your power meter.

And because I only have 90 units of power left (in Chinese it's called "dou" or "degrees"), I thought I should add more money to my card, as I turn on the air conditioning every evening and it uses up some electricity.

But it was such a hassle.

The usual machine at the bank where I add money wouldn't work with my card so I asked the teller. The teller told me to go to the Chinese Industrial Commerce Bank nearby. Nearby turned out to be several blocks away.

Hot and sweaty when I got there, that teller told me I already had money on this electricity card and couldn't add anymore money on it until it was empty. Huh?

Frustrated and annoyed that I had wasted so much time to accomplish nothing, I went to work and demanded someone explain to me what was going on.

It turns out that for my building, I have to wait until my meter reads 50 units of power or less before I can stick my card in and use up the rest of the balance on it. Only then can I add money to the card.

Why do I have to wait until it gets to 50 units? Why can't I just add more money whenever I want so I don't have to worry about how much power I'm using?

Even my colleagues at work had to admit this was a strange policy, but that was also how they bought electricity. They saw I was so angry at this crazy problem and tried to cheer me up. But not many have lived overseas to know how it works in other countries (ie. more convenient) so how could they even begin to sympathize with my angst?

One American intern who's been here for six months just boils it down to things here being crazy. And all you can do is join the club.

So I guess now's a good a time as any to get sucked into the club where things don't make sense but that's the way it is.

I hope that doesn't mean I become complacent! But if I want to continue living happily here it's the first step I gotta take before reaching acceptance.

Maybe this was my initiation ritual into the T-I-C club?


JJ said...

Yes, join the club, vent your steam out with one billion others.
Just make sure you don't stay as a member for TOO long.

ks said...

china is still somewhat backward in consumerism. it has quite a ways to match the western way of living. give it some time to catch up. there are a lot of unnecessary red tapes, redundent procedures. the paying of bills is a good example. they just dont realise people prepay is cash in hand prior to service provided, it is profitable. it must be their outdated accounting that prevent them from taking prepayment before 50 degrees is reached not prior.