One of the things I love about Beijing is its ability to provide me with little moments of amusement throughout the day. There will eventually be things that drive me crazy, but as it is at the start of any relationship the quirks are charming rather than infuriating. Take, for example, opening a bank account. While this is usually a simple process, China has a way of delightfully complicating things. A person with less patience (and less love for forehead-slapping moments) may have stressed out over this, but I must admit that I chuckled my way through it.
When I arrived at the bank with my boss, an enthusiastic bank employee came over to help me fill out the application form while I waited for my number to be called. After I filled in my name on the wrong line, he took the form from me, ripped it up, and gave me a new one. I must have looked very confused by this protocol, so he explained that I can’t make any mistakes or else the form will not be accepted by the teller. Fair enough.
Take two, I wrote my nationality in the wrong box. Thought I could fix it by drawing a line through it, but Mr. Enthusiastic gave out a squeal of disapproval and confiscated the form. At this point the bank was running out of forms, so he took matters into his own hands. And by matters I mean the pen, out of my hand and into his. Before we could fill out form take three my number was called, so my new foil in bank comedy accompanied me to the window to keep me from violating their strict zero tolerance policy on application mistakes.
It would have been very easy to get angry or yell or complain, but the trick to loving the Jing is rolling with the punches. You have to make the conscious decision to see these situations as real-life Abbot and Costello routines, sometimes bordering on slapstick. And since I kept smiling the bank assistant kept smiling, through the mistakes on the forms, through the bank insisting they had run out of ATM cards, and through the teller shooting him icy glares from behind her plexiglass shield.
In the end I got a bank account, a lovely purple ATM card, and the satisfaction that could only come from seeing my new bank buddy grinning as I left the branch. It’s the little things.