Once again, SHITtic will do everything to make getting your money out of the country an all afternoon affair--although as always, the bank agents are polite and helpful. It crossed my mind to tape a bunch of bills all over my body when I fly home, like in the movies. It takes all my effort not to go crazy while sitting in the bank for hours--quite literally hours! Don’t try to use a blue pen for bank forms, because after filling out forms for 20 minutes, they won’t tell you until you are finished, that no, you can't use a blue pen, and then yes, you must fill out the effing form again.
The fund transfer process goes a little like this:
1. Get income and tax form from employer (easy breezy)
2. Get tax form from gov’t Tax Bureau (easier the second time around)
3. Sit in bank for several hours while you: fill out forms, (curse under breath) answer invasive questions as to WHY you are sending money back to your home country (acceptable answer: to pay bills), fill out forms again (curse — but not under your breath), sit and wait for 20 minutes at a time while the rep types in every detail about your life, (continued cursing under breath), sit and fake smile while they take your photo, (another curse under breath), sit another 20 minutes while she types again, (too tired to curse anymore), put in PIN # numerous times into the little PIN machine, (giving up frustration at this point to accept that I'll be here through dinner), wait (impatient again) while the bank exchanges the RMB into USD (which requires two separate accounts, so I had to open an "exchange account")...after waiting an hour, insist you do not want to be here for two hours like you were last time, listen to response “okay, okay”, and wait again while the bank finally transfers the money to the US bank. After the first 45 minutes, try not to verbalize what is going on in your head, or alternatively, walk out in fury.* Finally, realize that this situation is beyond your control and it's much easier to accept the process as bureaucratic, and read a book.
Previously, at the tax bureau...
TAX BUREAU PROCESS:
The afternoon started out surprisingly well as I found the Tax Bureau so easily, found an empty service window, and got help immediately after pulling my Foreigner Card, aka acting (not acting??) like an ignorant and confused expat**. I didn’t have to wait long to get the form, and then I was on my way. I had everything I needed to exchange and transfer money, which is quite a long list:
Meanwhile, back at the bank, sitting at the teller window.
So now I’ve been here over an hour and she is still typing data into the computer.
NOW THEY WANT ANOTHER !*&%@#$%^+ FORM FILLED OUT BECAUSE THERE WAS AN ERROR ON ONE LINE (not my fault) and my signing for the error is not okay. WE ARE NOW ON THREE OF THE SAME EFFING FORMS FILLED OUT BECAUSE OF aaaaaaaargh! However, the clerk said she would fill it out, which is smart, because I can no longer contain my need to curse.
In the time I’ve been waiting, I’ve managed to type this entire blog post. Nothing has actually been accomplished in 30 minutes... just the clerk typing on the computer. F*** THIS. On the other hand, my reaction is telling me I need to work on acceptance and patience! They are doing their job with utmost haste and patience with me. Although I am frustrated, I am able to post it here and not take it out on the innocent bank staff!
I’ve been here now nearly two hours, and the teller suddenly communicates to me that she thinks the form I've filled out (three freakin times!) is the wrong form -- even though we are using the exact same form as last time. Then the staff begins questioning the addresses on the form, even though the form is filled out exactly how the bank manager instructed the first time I went through this hell.
*Important to note that all employees of the bank are exceptionally courteous, friendly, and helpful. Several even speak enough English to help with the forms. It is not their fault that this process is so IDIOCRATIC!
**The Foreigner Card is just like the Blonde Card, though I don’t know if it works with traffic tickets here like it used to in the USA! ;-))