When we got there, because of time constraints we planned that we would spend only one hour, and if we couldn't get it in that time, I would have to come back alone after I dropped him off at the airport. I was really praying that we would get it then because I am not that comfortable finding my way around in the city. And after my sister in law's experience last week that I blogged about, I was even more nervous!
When we pulled up outside the consulate, we saw that a line of people wrapped clear around the block! It seemed hopeless that I could get my passport in just one hour's time, but I decided to stand in line anyway, and give it a try. The line seemed to move so slowly! The security guards only let in a few people at a time because the fire codes don't allow too many people inside that building at one time. I think there are other security issues too. So we crept along slowly waiting our turn, all the while keeping our eye on the time.
As we neared the door, it seemed that we might just make it inside before they closed for lunch. There was an elderly chinese man trying to cut the line. He, like me, only needed to pick up his passport/visa, but he didn't seem to want to stand in line to do it. The guard told him over and over to get in line, but he ignored him, and kept trying to get him to let him go in ahead of everyone else. I could tell the guard was getting really impatient, but he didn't lose his cool. The rest of us in line were getting a little ticked at him though. Honestly I think he could speak english, but he pretended not to when the guard told him to stand in line.
Eventually the guard came and started asking us why we had come. When I told him I was just picking up, he led me over to the head of the line, and started a new line for those who were only picking up passports. That was just the edge I needed to get my passport before they closed, and in time to take my husband to the airport.
Just then the old man walked past me. I know I'm a busy body, but I couldn't help myself. I said it very kindly, but I said in chinese, "You have to line up." He said in chinese, "I'm just picking up." I said, "If you don't stand in line, they won't let you in." He moved to the back of the line. The guard had already told him this three times, but now that I had said it in chinese, the entire crowd knew he had no excuse. I wasn't really trying to make him lose face, but I wanted to tell him just in case he really couldn't speak english.
We got in quickly, and were out in about 5 minutes. I stopped and touched the guard on the shoulder and thanked him. He laughed and looked a little embarrassed, and also looked like he thought I was nuts. But I really did appreciate him forming the second line. It made all the difference to me, and actually to the old man too! :) And even if he thought I was weird to thank him, I felt so grateful that I just needed to do it!