By Joshua Dent
Did you ever have this weird and sick feeling in your stomach that you might be in China before the end of the month?
I am assuming probably not, but stick with me as I explain.
It is probably hard to figure out what I am up to these days. I can’t decide myself.
No Exit Letter for You Josh Dent
My head is spinning in 7,000 different directions. My one bit of solitude is that I know I have no choice but to stay positive. That is the only way you can persevere through this kind of mess.
The plan for today was round to take on Round 3 at the Immigration Office. The difficult part about handling matters of high importance in Taiwan is the idea of “losing face.” This directly translates to people will give you the wrong information to avoid telling you that they don’t know something.
I was told last week, or doing round 2, that I would have to get some sort of “exit letter” from my previous employer to be eligible to apply for a 90 day extension on my current working visa. This would allow me to stay in the country hassle-free.
I sarcastically thought right away “This should be fun.”
The reason I anticipated a fight was that I basically walked out on the job after the boss told me she wasn’t going to pay me for a class I taught. It was also the WORST group of kids I had.
Round 3 at the Immigration Office was supposed to go as follows.
My only duty was to pick up an “exit letter” from my last employer. Then, I could take that to immigration and get a 90 day extension on my Visa while I look for another job.
Of course, it couldn’t be that easy, right?
I found out that my employer wasn’t willing to give me the exit letter at roughly 10 a.m this morning.
I will preface this with “I really miss yoga” and not letting my mind “mind-fuck” me on a regular basis.
I was in Chinese Class when this news was delivered to me by former colleague. He was quite worried to give me the information. However,, it certainly has nothing to do with his actions.
I played “Mr. Cool and Calm” on the outside. I actually responded to him with “Whatever!” That is my code for when I am actually really nervous about something but I am not willing to tell you that.
I knew right away that it was no big surprise that they were going to play as many games as possible to make this process very difficult for me.
My original instinct was that they were just messing with me. But somehow, about 15 minutes later, my mind was just flew into some sort of excessively spinning circle.
Leaving on a Jet Plane to China
I had myself convinced that I was going to be kicked out of the country by week’s end and there was no hope. At that point in the morning, I wished I would have remembered the part about staying positive.
I thought I had absolutely NO emotional tie to Taiwan. Then, I quickly realized that was not TRUE. I have had lots of great and interesting experiences in a really short period of time.
It got a little weird up Planet Josh at that point. I might as well keep going. I say it got weird for good reason. I quickly just figured I would go to China if anything happened.
It is a pretty bizarre day when you are saying to yourself . Oh Well, I will just go to China if I get kicked out of this country. When I was a slave to a desk, 401k plans, and my gym membership, that self-talk just didn’t seem possible
Taiwan Immigration Office
I rushed to the Immigration Office after Chinese class. The Immigration Office is not exactly a place where you go to feel good about yourself either.
At roughly 3p.m., Miss Shu at counter #7 pressed the button to let me know that me, or #185 (my ticket number) was ready for her attention.
I hope this gives you that same kind of DMV robotic feeling of what I was facing. I guess we could say it was like trying to get the DMV to waive a suspended registration fee from 2007. It just so happened to be this DMV was in “The Taiwan.”
Miss Shu seemed absolutely horrified when I came to the counter and I greeted her “Ni-Hao” with a “Hello.” I tried to be extra nice and smile a lot.
I started to talk. I guess I never even asked her if she spoke English. I just assumed she had this ability since it is the “Immigration Office.” I really tried hard to speak slowly and clearly as possible.
Suddenly, Miss Shu had a look of complete terror on her face. This was after I handed her my pile of notes I had written on the back of my Chinese character practice pages. I am not sure if she had flashbacks of her English teachers screaming at her for bad pronunciation, or it was my shitty-looking writing.
However, I could tell she just had absolutely no clue what was going on. I was trying not to die on the inside.
Taiwan Dwarf Frank Saves Josh
Somehow, I must have kept my cool enough for this 47 year old near dwarf-sized Taiwanese guy named Frank sitting next to me to feel like I was somewhat approachable in my hour of need. Frank was over to my left at counter #6. He seemed like a bit of a regular there. I am not sure that is a good thing. But, he turned to be very useful for me.
The fastest 2 minutes of my life rushed by. I couldn’t for a million dollars tell you what Frank and I talked about. But, I suddenly pulled out this innate ability to have a fluent sounding conversation in Chinese with tiny Frank.
It reminded me when two of my childhood TV heroes, Kevin Arnold from the Wonder Years, and Bart Simpson suddenly learned French when thrown into a sink or swim environment.
Suddenly, counter #7 refilled with a wave of calmness. I think the lady knew that I could actually speak a little bit of Chinese took all of her fear of me and my big head away.
We communicated back and forth in shitty English, and broken Chinese, and got the extension I needed.
This was probably the most beneficial blog update for me personally. I could actually hear some of your voices in my head throughout saying “Josh!!”
No going to China after all.
Little Frank, you saved my ass man!