Well, Linda ran the China Visa Marathon today. She showed up before 7 Am for the office which opens at 9. After parking nearby she ended up waiting outside, 53rd in line!
Not bad I suppose if you were in line to buy tickets to see U2 in a small club, or maybe have an interview with the Pope.
She ended up with ticket # 87 when she got inside, and they began by serving # 435 or something. That must be the New Math, Chinese style. Anyway she got to the counter about 10 AM, not too bad she thought. Well, not quite.
The woman at the counter looked at our completely filled out forms and said to Linda that she had to staple the passport photos to the applications. Linda said "Can't you do that? It did not say anywhere that we had to staple it", "No, you have to go over there."
There was a stapler inches from the woman's arm, on her desk. She pointed across the large room at the Security Officer's desk, which also had a throng of people at it. She also had taken Linda's # 87 ticket.
Linda did not throttle her, but I know it was considered. 20 minutes later she had her staples and approached the same window, which of course was at the end of a line as long as when she came in.
Linda can be pretty charming when she needs to be. Or not. The kind folks already at the head of the line were happy to let her in. They also were amazed at how it went from there with the woman behind the desk.
For one thing she wanted to see Linda's ticket (which she had already turned in), for another she wanted Linda to write her middle name in Chinese!
Linda was born in Hong Kong, and originally had a Chinese name. When asked for a middle name on a document she enters the Chinese name in the appropriate field. In English. That's what she writes. That's what the rest of the form is filled out in, ENGLISH. Not CHINESE. She did not ask for Linda's family name in Chinese, just her middle name.
Linda stood her ground.
In fact she did more, and threatened the woman with having CTV camera people show up at the street out front tomorrow morning to show what kind of debacle the service was at this office. And she got her way, so we should be able to pick up the passports with our stamps this Friday. I think I'll go to get them; they may have reinforcements watching out for Linda.
Meanwhile the folks behind Linda told her that they had been here the day before and actually had gone out to buy their own stapler to take care of the photos on their applications. They were back today because after doing that they had not made it to the counter before the office closed. They now wanted Linda to stay with them to help them get through the Red Tape!
In the background as I write this is the CBC local TV news. Ironically one of the stories is about how bad the lineups are and service is at the Vancouver Consulate for China where they process Visa applications!
Hmmm, I thought Linda said she was going to get CTV on the case...