Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Apologies and Guanxi

When i was just a wee kev and was perchance caught misbehaving, my mom always made me say what i was sorry for, not just that i was sorry. China makes you do the same thing.

My visa expired this Sunday, and i completely forgot about it. I've been so busy lately with too many things. My mind has been scattered at best, and this one slipped through. Friday at about 3pm, i realize my mistake and run to the agency, only to find i need my Alien Employee Permit renewed first. Fail. I would need to do that next Tuesday, as this weekend is Five One. However, they did agree not to kick me out of the country. In exchange, i was forced to apologize. I wrote something like this on a blank sheet of paper:

To Whom It May Concern,

I am late renewing my Residence Permit this year because i did not know i needed to renew my Alien Employee Permit first at a different location. I thought i could do it all at the same time at this location. I will not make this mistake again.

Kevin Reitz

Now, technically that isn't an apology, it's an admittance of making a mistake. My mom would not have accepted it. My colleague who translated it for me into Chinese realized as well. She took some liberties in the translation and it ended up something like this:

To Whom It May Concern,

I am so sorry! I was very busy at work and cannot believe I failed to follow the simple rules of the visa renewal process. I have truly learned my lesson and have brought shame upon myself and family. Please allow to stay in Beijing as I continue to make this a better place and give back to the community. I promise to never make this mistake again.

Kevin Reitz (sorry!)

I had to sign it too and it goes into a permanent file for me. I have some friends who have made this same kind of error and have "apologized" for it. Only in China would losing face be the appropriate punishment for an illegal alien. In the United States, we deport.

Tuesday. I learn a valuable lesson about Guanxi. Basically, if you know the right people and possibly offer a small gift of gratitude, you can move things along really fast. Today, GG and Scarlet worked miracles for me and i may have a new visa as early as tomorrow. In a situation whose worst outcome means returning to the USA immediately to reapply AND getting smacked with some hefty fines, i'm getting off pretty easy.



Anonymous said...

WOW! Good Job Kevin. Mom

Anonymous said...

It's nice to know that you were actually listening way back when you were a little Kev. It looks like you turned out pretty good after all.

Anonymous said...

Betty Vitale