Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A (mostly) wasted day

This post could also be titled, "My government is full of non-information."

Yesterday, I took a trip to the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou for the American citizen information hour at 3 pm. It's a two-hour bus ride for 60 RMB from right outside my door. Unfortunately, the latest bus I could take that would get me there in time left at 8:15 am.

Arriving early in Guangzhou, I decided to check out a place to eat. One of my brother's clients has a friend who opened an Italian restaurant near the consulate--Danny's Bagel. They advertise that they have bagels, and I've been desperate for one for the last two years. So, I stopped in (too early again--it opens at 11:30) and ordered a bagel with cream cheese. It certainly wasn't a NY bagel, but it was pretty good for China (and much better than anything I had in Colorado and most of central PA). Where else could I get one around here? And, if I had enough money, I would have ordered some of the appetizing Italian dishes (mmm... chicken parm). But I suppose I'll have to save that for another trip. I stood around after the bagel to talk with Danny. He's a very nice guy who's been in China for quite a while. We commiserated about the lack of American sports.

I took the excessively humid walk to the consulate since I had plenty of time to kill--it was only about 30 minutes, but I was feeling a bit over-heated. I waited an hour for the session to start with my copy of Midnight's Children. When the time came to get my information, I discovered I wasted my time. Instead of being able to ask specific questions (such as I had been told by a friend who went through the process a year ago) I was greeted with a "Well, you just need to go on our Web site and find all the information there." Hell, I already knew there was information there! I wanted specific answers pertaining to my wife's situation. They don't even have copies of ANY forms for me to look over. I have to print everything out and hope that it's OK. Thank you U.S. State Department for wasting my time.

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