Back in the Jing Again
Have you ever entered a room, flipped on the light switch only to see the room grow darker? It’s a fairly typical phenomenon that Chinese light-bulbs seem to suck the light from a room, then pretend to shine it back at you. I mean, corners that were illuminated before flipping the switch, mysteriously fade to black. I’ll never understand this shit!
Anyway, after donning goggles, helmet and safety boots for the walk, I reported to my new office today at Beijing’s spectacular new World Financial Center,
just across the expressway from the (in)famous burnt-out CCTV Tower.
Thankfully, I remembered NOT to ask any local for directions, because no matter the enormity of a building or the fascination of the façade or it’s looming effect on the skyline, if the Chinese to whom one inquires about it has never been to the building, it simply does not exist. Nor does the street it’s on exist! The street can exist near another building they know, but cannot possibly exist where I suggest it might be based on the address I have.
With a bit of time to kill, against my better judgment, I took a taxi rather than the 20 minute walk. My taxi driver didn’t know the building by name (nor did I expect him to) so I just told him to take me to the bridge next to the building and I’d hoof it from there. About a third of the way, in what should have been a five minute ride, I decided to call ahead to allow the folks that work INSIDE the World Financial Center direct the driver all the way to the doorman.
Contacting my Training Coordinator inside the WFC, I confirmed that she had been working at this location for more than six months, that she lived in the neighborhood and she might just know where she is. Once I handed my mobile phone to the taxi driver, an argument arose. (I understand some Chinese, so it wasn’t just my imagination) The driver insisted to TC Girl that I’d instructed him to drop me off next to Jing Guang bridge and that I had not indicated any building. He was right, I had said take me to the bridge and drop me off, but duhhhh? After three minutes of him yelling into my mobile, we finally arrived at the WFC based on my pointing and screaming from the back-seat. The driver wound his car up to the gate guard and asked him if that was the place I was supposed to be. The gate guard peered back at me in wonder. I assured the gathering crowd of gate guards and random passers-by that I would indeed exit the taxi and enter the building, under escort if need be, but I would NOT be left standing on or next to the Jing Guang bridge!
Upon arrival to the third floor office of the skyscraper the coordinator, presented the requisite paperwork for signatures and confirmed that everything I had provided was indeed correct. Now mind you, I had stayed up until 5:20am this morning uploading all the documents to a server in Montreal, so that Montreal could send it back officially to the WFC, twenty minutes walking and a 30 minute taxi ride from my apartment.
At my INSISTENCE, TC and I adjourned to the Training Room where I am to conduct my course on Monday, for me to familiarize myself with the set-up and confirm technological compatibility of my techno-gadgetry stuff with their techno-gadgetry stuff. Seemingly annoyed over my insistence to see and touch my accommodations for the upcoming week, TC rushed me into a gorgeous room bathed in a white luminescence with the company logo prominently posted above a rather impressive flat screen. At the top of the U-shaped conference table, also in immaculate white, TC slammed her table’s cable into my laptop as though she was raping it or something and then commenced to bashing the function keys to project my PPT onto the flat screen. Well, the flat screen appeared to be on, however, my PPT was not on it. The two of us fiddled and faddled with it long enough that I decided it time to call in reinforcements. Looking at TC Girl half-pleading, half-commanding I declared, “Call IT, please?”
TC brisked away for a good six to eight minutes to round up IT Guy that entered the room, ignored me and commenced to fiddling and faddling my laptop just the same way TC and I already had. Seemingly nonplussed, IT Guy launched a barrage of insults aimed at my laptop for “having some problem”. Unimpressed, with this tirade, I coolly recommended that he either fix the “problem” or provide an alternative solution to positioning my PPT to his flat screen.
Another litany of unintelligible gibberish ensued betwixt the two before TC Girl hurried back to her office, disconnected her laptop, returned to the conference table, plopped her laptop next to mine and plugged into the power strip/AV connection box hiding inside the table, exactly as she had already done mine.
Her still warm laptop, exhibited NO signs of life AT ALL. A few seconds of head-scratching later, “Aha!” I thought. “Surely there must be a switch inside that source box on the desk that emits the energy absorbed by light-bulbs in my apartment!” So I reached into the box from where the cable connection came, to flip that switch but felt several ends of cables reaching back to me! The damn box wasn’t connected to ANY power source, internet source, or anything! Further inspection found cables underneath the table just dangling, but too short to reach the power and internet sources hiding inside the box buried in the floor!
IT Guy and TC abandoned me with housekeeping lady to sort out the rest, because at 11:30am (ON the dot) Chinese people collectively MUST eat. Fifteen minutes later, without a meal in front of them they will start to faint.