Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Bank

By the time the bank teller came back from wherever she'd gone, somewhere behind the wall that divided us, I'd already been waiting more than an hour. First an anxiety had gone through me over the thought of having to come up with the Chinese to defend my place in line, a joke, really, the thought that there could be a line: people almost always come into the room, see that there are others waiting, see even that a customer's already being served at the window, and approach the teller anyway. A foreigner, I imagined defending my place—"不,不,不,轮到我了"—to be an impossibility. Then the anxiety that because the person I usually deal with wasn't here, I was going to have a hard time. And, lo, nor was I wrong, because the teller came back and told me something about five hundred USD, and I thought she was saying I couldn't send money. A quick call to Hillary confirmed I couldn't send more than five hundred a year, which I'd never heard before. Some time later I was back with Linda, who, I didn't know, had a relationship with the manager, and it was all being smoothed out. Nobody's surprised at Linda's connections; she's the domestic coordinator, after all, and the school's employed her as a grease giver (see guanxi). She seems to know everybody and to have helped everybody at one time or another, and I feel good to have her on my side, though I also feel annoyed that by myself, because I'm a foreigner, I can't do a simple thing like transfer money back to the States.

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