I’m beginning to understand just how resourceful and adventurous the permanent foreign residents in China must have to be. Each time I am faced with a seemingly simple task, I am amazed but how complex it quickly becomes. By now you may have detected that a common theme in our China experience has been the toilets and showers. In each of our apartments we have dealt with a variety of problems, and the current is no exception.

A few weeks ago our toilet clogged, and I attempted to fix the problem myself. However, after buying two different plungers that didn’t work, I had to walk to maintenance and request the heavy-duty plunger that is apparently not sold in stores. Then today, our pipe to the toilet starting leaking heavily and I walked back down to maintenance. I managed to correctly pronounce “lou guanzi” only to be corrected that in Chinese they don’t say “leaky pipe,” but rather “pipe leaky.” Oh well, they got they point and I learned two new words.

So, my plunger friend arrived and informed me that the pipe was bad and I would have to go buy a new one. I explained that I had no idea where to go, and I couldn’t explain myself even if I found the place, so could I pay him to buy it? He laughed and simply said, “no.” Thus, I called my ever-supportive boss, who attempted to introduce the admittedly very kind main to the concept of customer service. The main replied that was not allowed to leave the complex. Then, I called my landlord, (who luckily speaks good English) who also pleaded with the maintenance guy. Miraculously, for 30RMB, the new pipe showed up at my door five minutes later. Grrr.

My day really went from troublesome to disastrous when I came to the realization that I had incorrectly assumed my work email was being forwarded to my personal account. Apparently I had only had access to messages I had personally initiated over the last month, and missed over 70 from my boss and other contacts. I couldn’t believe it. Those of you who know me can attest that I’m a veritable email fiend and almost never let a message without response for more than 24 hours. This was not only highly embarrassing, but I cannot imagine how my new boss has been feeling about my work ethic and organization over the past month. I think I must work for a saint because she merely laughed and said, “I thought you were having a bad week.”

To top things off, I tried to take out the last of the RMB I haven’t spent on fun things like visas and toilet pipes and my accounts are apparently completely frozen. I had to freeze a certain amount to extend my visa, but somehow all has been locked-up. At that point I just starting laughing, this must be why expats are simultaneously kicking themselves for living in China and relishing in the fact that every day is an adventure and no two days are the same.