A story for future dinner parties

This is one of those times when something happens to you, and it totally sucks while it’s happening, and for a little while after. Then you calm down and realize you need to put it in your stack of stories for dinner parties.

Cameron sent me a text last Tuesday asking me to bring his keys downstairs before he left for school. In an attempt to do it quickly so he wouldn’t be late, I grabbed his keys and went downstairs.

Without taking my own key.

Our apartment door locks from the inside. If you’re outside, you can’t open it without a key.

I was in my pajamas. (In my defense, it was 7am and I work from home).

So that meant I had to find someone to help me. We’re the only foreigners living in a 68-building complex. I rode my bike to the Tenants’ Association office. It was closed.

I went back to my hallway and cried (some more).

I went out on my bike once more and intercepted a complex employee. I “explained” through signals as best as I could that I was locked out. He went over to our building. First he needed to find someone to open the building (oh yeah, you also need a key to access the building!)

No help. (I was hoping he would have some sort of master key).

He got another person to help. After a bunch of calls and a lot of yelling in Chinese, they pressed the emergency button on the elevator. No progress. They kept asking me for my key. I kept signaling it was inside (“If I had it, I guarantee this would not be happening!) Nothing.

They knocked in the apartment across the hall. More yelling in Chinese. I’m pretty sure our neighbor told the guards she had never seen me before. Guess what? I’ve never seen you either, lady.

Finally a third guard comes in and writes in his phone translator that getting a locksmith will cost me 150 RMB. Fine. The locksmith gets there maybe a half hour later. It’s been about 2 hours since I got locked out.

I don’t do well in awkward situations and I thougth for a minute they were calling the police. (Did they think I was a squatter?). I showed them my key once I went back in just to make sure.

Does this change my current stance on Chinese? Not really. Completing a Master’s in my own time, subbing, and being a wife, daughter, friend and family member to other people takes all my time, frankly. I’ll just make sure to have my phone and keys with me at all times. And get out of my pajamas and into normal people clothes earlier.

Do I hate China? No. It has its moments, but they are a small minority. After all was said and done, I was safe in our lovely apartment and that’s what matters. Could have been so much worse!

Coming up next, a little life update.

Cheers,

Ana

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