….Right here in Los Angeles one can catch a glimpse of what to expect upon visiting China.
I was recently paying my annual visit to the China Consulate on Shatto Place, downtown LA, for visa renewal.
Previous visits have been pretty much routine with the occasional bureaucratic sideswipe. However, this visit was quite the circus;
The usual LED notice board that alerts waiting visa applicants to their turn at the counter windows was broken. This meant that instead of a quiet few minutes sitting on one of the arena-like bench seats, every applicant had to stand in line with a numbered admission ticket given to us by the very pleasant security guys at the front door.
This line extended around the entire waiting area like some sort of homage to the Year of the Dragon. So, instead of being able to sit and contemplate the upcoming noodles and Baijiu consumption, we all shuffled along for a good hour (threading our way between the seats) with nothing to do except stare at the CCTV news show that was silently portraying life in China as it will be when we get there.
The simple interim solution (who knows just how interim?) would have been to have one of the counter staff call out numbers (in Chinese and English) and the rest of us could have waited on the benches for our turn…..this was apparently too logical for this office…when I suggested the ‘improvement’ to the girl behind my counter window wearing the blue surgical gloves, she stared at me as if I’d just asked her to marry me.
Based on my many visits to China over the past few years, this is pretty much the existence that the locals are subjected to…not a lot of lateral thinking and absolutely zero idea about customer service. However, China is never dull and the further west one travels, the more interesting life gets.