Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Paperwork

I've recently had to do some things- file a tax return, get a library card, open a bank account- that are kind of a pain here, but when I think about it they were a big pain back home, too, eh?

I only worked for one month in Taiwan last year and neither owed money nor would get any back, but I still had to file my taxes so that I can file them next year and get money back. They gave me this dodgy-looking piece of paper at work and said it was my information. They did offer a day to help us fill out the preliminary paperwork but I couldn't go that day and instead waited until the day before the last day to file your taxes. You know. One weird thing is that you have to file in person- go to this huge building. It was like a labyrinth. I knew there was a foreign-filer place so I asked at the information desk and the lady told me in rapid fire Chinese how to find it, and I asked her to speak slowly, and she heaved this enormous sigh and told me quickly again. Later I found a guy who spoke Enlgish and he took me there himself- it was like through a courtyard and under a tunnel and in a big barn-like building with tax papers everywhere. It didn't occur to me that foreign-filers included, you know, people from China or Singapore or other places where they speak Chinese... but the lady who helped me spoke enough English to help me. She was actually very nice and it was a pretty painless process.

Other people from work had funny stories- like the one girl in Fong Yuan said there was a sign that said "We Speak English!" and every time she would say something the clerk would just giggle. So she started to speak Chinese and the clerk told her (In Chinese) that she could speak English. She was like, no, you really can't. Another girl went during the nap time- lots of companies do this, just turn out the lights and everyone takes a nap. She said that at 1 o'clock the lights came on and a little bell rang and everyone just sat up and started working- no getting a drink or trips to the bathroom for them!

The library card was also pretty painless- in Pittsburgh I had to like show a utility bill in my name before they'd give me one. Here I just filled out a little form and showed my residence card and boom, there you are. They have an English section. The books are a little random- like half of the great works of literature and some travel guides. And not put in any kind of alphabetic order. It's nice to have though.

The bank account is something I've really been putting off for some reason. I remember what a pain they were at home. There is a bank on the first floor of my building and this crazy security guard who speaks English who would always accost me when I walked by- "Hello! Where are you from! How much money do you make? What do you pay for rent?" I would always tell him I was busy, in Chinese- don't know why I felt the need to do it in Chinese. Anyways I figured that would be a good place to open up my account and he was a big help. Probably happy that he got to see how much money I put in but whatever. He said he was a retired military person and that's why his English was so good (?). It took a long time but it wasn't too bad. Three people came along to show me how to work the ATM card. It was pretty funny. They were all like, "Ni hen lihai!" (means like you are so skillful, but not as goofy-sounding as skillful). I was like, in America, we have these machines, too!

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