“You realize,” said my co-worker, John, “That you are literally irreplaceable.” He said this after my supervisor did two things no other supervisor has done. First, he fixed my transportation receipts to make sure they were all perfect, and second, he arrange for someone to go to the visa office to pick up our passports so that we don’t have to take the 2 hour trip on the subway again. He also encouraged me to bring my girls to every social function planned this month. Usually, I ask, and if they can’t go, I don’t go.
John has officially decided he wants to leave. They have no one to replace him. He probably won’t leave until after New Years, and there is no official date, but everyone is scrambling. We only have two teachers at this center, and if you subtract one, well, you have a bit of a problem.
The main cause is our HR department. They sent me down to the visa office last week to get our visas renewed. Last year, they collected our visas and paperwork and did it themselves. I thought it was weird that they were sending me. And were they sending everyone? That would be crazy! We all need our visas renewed at the same time.
This was day three of my migraine, and I wasn’t moving fast. We made it to the office around 2:30 or so. After waiting over an hour for my number to be called, they sent me to a special room where I had to wait in line with about 5 other people. None of us knew why we were there, but the sign said, “Overstay.” I was positive, I was not over-staying. I was actually early. Our visas don’t expire until the 31st. I mostly talked to an Indian guy, and a Canadian guy. The Indian guy said he heard the person in the office getting charged either 1,500 RMB, or 15,000 RMB. That guy had been in there for a long time.
All the while, the girls had brought a few of their My Little Ponies, and played on the floor quietly –for hours! I got so many compliments from other people waiting and the police. I could barely hold my head up. I thought I actually had the flu, but I’m pretty sure now it’s just a horrible migraine.
When it was my turn, I was brought into an office the size of closet that somehow managed two desks, with people behind them, one officer standing, and a door behind with people coming and going. It was so comical, I actually laughed, because one officer kept trying to pass the one who was standing and they kept getting in each other’s way. They laughed too, so it was ok. The man told me that if I ever transfer or move, I have 10 days to notify them. I moved back in April! The fine (X 3) would have been so ridiculous, that he just gave me a warning. He made me repeat that I actually understood and that it would never happen again. In this case, I am almost positive that having the girls there helped. I am also pretty sure that HR sent me because they knew they screwed up, and that I would get fined. It’s things like this that are the reason John wants to leave.
The girls were so good through all of that mess however, that on the way home I treated them to Pizza Hut, and a trip around Toys R Us, where they each got to buy the other a small gift. For the record, this is KILLING Raine. “I can’t hold it!” I thought she had to pee or something. “I have to tell her! I can’t keep the secret!” I heard this for over an hour, and the whole way home. But she’s better now that we wrapped it and put it under the tree.
Unfortunately, unlike me, my nanny is replaceable. I like her. She’s not the best, but I really like her. She doesn’t frustrate me like some of the others have. I came home excited to tell her that I could give her 10 days off at Chinese New Years all paid. I have to take 10 days then, and I’m scheduling Rumi’s surgery then, so she can go visit family or do whatever. She told me that she would be going to her hometown and not coming back. She suggested that I start looking for a substitute. I’m going to start calling them by numbers now, like on House. The next one is number 10. And that is what I will call her –at least in my head.
About Rumi’s surgery. I called the hospital to schedule it and they said I had to come back in and have a doctor schedule it, meaning pay to see a doctor again, etc. They also wouldn’t tell me how much it cost for a night in a room, or any estimate of costs. Then, I found another hospital which is a new international hospital. It is walking distance from our old apartment complex, and Raine will be there with our friends. I called them, and they were able to give me estimates which were lower than I anticipated. The only problem is that no one I know has ever been there or used them. Everyone uses the big hospital in Pudong (2 hours from my house). The other advantage of this one is that if we have to take a taxi home, we can. I have no idea how else I could get Rumi home, because I’m pretty sure they won’t give me a wheelchair. I think I am going to take a chance on this new hospital. They cater specifically to foreigners, and though Chinese people may not agree, bigger isn’t always better.
I heard a rumor that it snowed a few nights ago between 1 and 2am. I drug out my winter coat that morning. It’s not been as cold as last winter at all. But also, we have a warm, toasty, new apartment, and we haven’t turned the heat on at night yet. Last year, we had the heat on, 2 comforters, and we slept in layers, sometimes even with gloves and hats! I’m so happy to be here in the “burbs.” I love my house and this neighborhood. I love feeling that I am irreplaceable. Now, I’m like Raine, I can’t wait for Christmas, even if it is just us.