Some days are better than others. My morning went as well to be expected (for an early morning language class), and my afternoon was delicious and spent in good company. It’s the mid-morning part I’m not so sold on.
I just wanted to purchase a meal card.
A month earlier, most of my classmates went and got their photo taken and BAM. Cafeteria-ready pieces of plastic. I always wanted one, it’s true, but the motivation was distant. A vague yeah, I should get on that. I never did. Last night I agreed to meet a friend at 11:30am to go to the appropriate office, her to re-fill her card with money and me to get a new one. I brushed my hair, wiped away residual eyeliner smudges, and pressed my favorite lipstick on (carefully, with the pads of my fingers; I wanted my lips to look stained, not like I was feeling dangerous–it was only an I.D. photo, goodness!). I ended up going by myself, as I suspect she completely forgot. How hard could it be, I thought to myself, entirely too optimistic considering my steady skepticism of other people’s similar optimism in similar situations.
(Flashback: attempting to buy cell phones and somehow succeeding. I think I might have accidentally sold my soul in the process.)
I got in line, side-eyeing students who edged too close. I wasn’t in the right mood to let people cut.
The office was narrow and big enough only for two women working behind the big silver bars. I smiled at her, because friendliness has always done me well, and said something to the effect of “我要买一张饭卡。我可以买一张卡在这个地方吗？” or I want to buy a card. Can I buy it here? I figured that it would do the trick. Context helps a great deal, and I was standing in the same office that my classmates successfully bought theirs. Even if “food card” wasn’t the official name for a meal card, they could figure out what I meant, right?
Basically, I got shut down. Shut down fast. Shut down good.
I’m pretty sure that she said something like uh, no, you’re a foreign exchange student so go to whatever office that handles you. I asked again. Are you sure, I asked, I can’t buy a card here?
I went away. And, because I have delicate sensibilities, blinked away the possibility of tears. (I cry when I’m angry or upset, ugh ugh ugh). OK, I thought to myself. Weird. And rude. But fixable. I’d go talk to Dawn, who was indeed in charge of all of the American foreign students and thus me, and then I’d have three and a half weeks to eat cheap, filling cafeteria food.
I then proceeded to knock over a row of bicycles.