(wrote this a few days ago and am just getting it up)
As we walked into the room, I was rambling away for my busy husband... "I think the way life and business work in China is something that most Americans would never expect without being thoroughly introduced..... Just think of how many trips across town in often takes to just get a stamp on a piece of paperwork or a signature on a line. There are so many crazy hoops and hurdles to daily life here...."
We stood our ground amidst the group of people that were all pushing their way toward the lady at the front desk and eventually we got to the front (of the crowd, not the line).... Her office area was packed and it wasn't her day. Nor was it ours. She told us our checks couldn't be done, "just come back tomorrow."
Teary-eyed, I mentioned that we have four kids at home (five people all around us turn their heads and look in shock at us in this one-child nation) and "arranging child care is hard and we've just come all this way.... can we please get this check-up done today?" (I didn't even mention the many failed attempts or the 30 minute challenge to simply get ourselves into a parking space.)
She assured us it was impossible and if I she were a newspaper, her headline was shouting, "I just don't feel like taking care of you guys..." Matt kindly mentioned our urgency and she shamelessly repeated her answer. I pleaded and Matt finally tugged on my arm and we left.
Then we figured out we had to go back in and see when we could pick up our health test results...If we got the tests done tomorrow morning, could he pick up the results in time, or would he miss his flight to Hong Kong next week (tomorrow now) (where he's required to go in order to change to a business visa for us to live here.)
This time, by pure grace!, we talked with a man who knew well that this was exactly the office to get this done and he passed our paperwork through, pointed us to the next three desks to get stamps on our papers and then to stand in line (an actual line this time!) in what looked exactly like a bank teller's line. When we got to the front, we laid our arms over a nice little pillow and got our veins pricked for a blood draw. I watched carefully and gladly as all the needles and viles they used were sterile, and saw grimacingly how there was never any hand washing going on, no changes to gloves.... Lord have mercy. It seemed nearly clean though....
Up to the third floor, we find a nice lady who guided us through the next 5 rooms we needed to visit for more stamps, signatures and checks on our papers. Room #2 was something like a quick EKG. I took the 5.5 steps from the crowded waiting room of summer scented fellow patients and maneuvered around the divider that stood high as my head and then I laid down like I was told. "Lift up your shirt," obediently (I thought), I showed my waist.... which was not enough. Ms. EKG grabed my shirt and bra and threw everything far too far north. Instinctively, I grabed it all back and told her I'm not ok with that.... "what if someone walks in just behind me?" She chuckled at my ridiculous modesty and yelled out into the waiting room, "the foreignor isn't ok with her shirt off.... can someone come stand watch?"
(Ah.... that was not quite the sympathy or support I was hoping for.) She began her test set-up again and then Lady #2 comes in to see what the big deal is and stood in the door way til the procedure is over.
When I heard a man's voice about two feet from me, on the other side of the divider, I decided the best course of action was to "hide" two-year-old style, with my eyes tightly closed, and get this done quickly.
And it wasn't much longer, and we were done.... and very thankful for that! We made it home only an hour late for the babysitters. (Now on to steps 7 - 34 to get this visa completed!)
Yes, Lord, give us your help and favor on this process!