Wow just when I thought things were gonna work out life decides to throw another loop at me. Thursday I went with Gabrielle to the visa office in D.C. to turn in my application. It took us quite a while to find it and we ended up taking a few wrong turns. It was strange because the visa office was located no where near the embassy so the directions that I printed out from the website were inaccurate.
When we got there we parked at a garage underneath the building. Some guy walked up to us, asked how long we were staying, and asked for my car keys. I was a little bit hesitant at first, because I didn’t know if he really worked there. Plus, it’s strange for a parking garage to park your car for you. I had this bad feeling that I would come back and my car would be missing. That plus my laptop was sitting in my backpack in the trunk of the car. I didn’t want to take it with me, because I didn’t want to create any hassle for security at the visa office.
When we finally found the right suite it wasn’t too crowded and we actually finished pretty quickly. I think we spent maybe a total of 10 minutes there waiting and turning in the application. I made one mistake on my paperwork where I checked a box saying that I planned on studying in China, because I considered learning Mandarin as studying. Silly me. Luckily the person that was helping me just whited it out and all was well. I’m really glad I brought my passport with me though, because I had to had it over to her until I pick up the visa. The website only said that I needed a copy of the info page from it, but I shouldn’t be surprised because it was wrong about the address as well.
Gabrielle scared me a bit while we were waiting. She told me I would have to go into a room and they would interview me. I was worried that they would start asking questions about what exactly I planned to do there and why I only purchased a one-way ticket. When I got to the window I really wasn’t asked anything at all, and was just given a slip with a date to come pick it up.
We still had a lot of spare time after we finished at the visa office, so we decided to grab something to eat. I didn’t want to go to Chinatown, because I didn’t know how long it would take, and it would probably require me having to move my car. Instead we found a nice restaurant just down the blocked named Shanghai Tea House. Appropriate right? The food there wasn’t too bad–although a bit overpriced.
There was this one strange lady who came in while we were there, and she was carrying this big suitcase. She had a strong accent, and I’m guessing she was somewhere from Europe. She came in and sat herself down and the waitress kind of approached her hesitantly. When the waitress offered her something the lady refused and just sat there stretching. About 10 minutes later the waitress came back and gave her a menu and asked if she planned on ordering anything. It was obvious that she didn’t. So the lady just sat there pretending to look at the menu.
Eventually the manager came over and said, “Excuse me… ma’am? Ma’am? Hello??” and the lady blatantly ignored her. Then the manager flat out told her that if she wasn’t going to order something she would have to leave. The lady responded, “I might order tea or something.” And the manager replied, “Well we have tea ready.”
I have no idea why I’m going into detail about this by the way. I know it’s insanely boring. The situation just struck me as odd because of the lady’s mannerism. There was just something really off about her, and Gabrielle and I just kind of sat there watching the scene.
Anyway, on the way home we got lost again, but we made it back with ample time for her to get to class. Next week we’ll have to go back to pick up my passport and visa, and I’m taking her to get her learner’s permit. Maybe I’ll also explain what came up since then and why I’m probably not going to China… It’s been a hell of a week.