So, yeah, today started brilliantly. 8 o’clock class means my alarm was set for 6:30- yeah, wake up in darkness, love that (actually, that’s the one thing I really, really loathe about winter- waking up in darkness). And then at 7 o’clock sharp the power went out. Within a couple of minutes, just as I was pulling my jeans on about to step out and check the fusebox, I heard people downstairs opening their doors and talking, so I assumed the whole building was without power, but I stepped outside to check the fusebox, anyway. The switches were all in their right places, there was nothing obviously wrong, but stupid, stupid me did not think to check how many units of electricity were left on our meter.

…it’s a pre-pay system, you see, and the last time we bought electricity was right before National Day….

Anyway, after class I bumped into a colleague who lives in the same building and asked him if his power had gone out at seven am. No, he was online and nothing untoward happened. And then he offered up the brilliantly obvious suggestion that maybe we’d run out of power and needed to buy more. Well, no shit, Sherlock, it’s been nearly two months since I last bought electricity.

So I stopped by the office to do a couple of things, but gk wasn’t there, meaning most of what I needed to do could not be done, so I went home to see about this power. Funnily enough, the meter only had four units left on it. Well, couldn’t they let me use those four units while I bought electricity? Really, shouldn’t they cut it off when the meter hits zero? Whatever, I grabbed the card and went over to the electricity buying office.

No, I won’t rant about the people I met in the electricity buying office. I’ve done that kind of thing enough already. Let’s just say your average jellyfish has more backbone than the first guy I came across, and more intelligence than the second. Doesn’t matter, I bought my electricity and went home.

And then the meter refused to recognise that I had bought more electricity, and a light marked “报警” flashed. Report to the police? No, that can’t be right, it must be just some warning that something’s wrong. So I called the foreign teachers’ apartments maintenance man. Something must’ve gone wrong in the electricity office, he says, call them, and then he reels off a number so fast I don’t have time to hear any single digit, let alone grab a pen and write it down. So I grab my coat and electricity card and prepare to go back to the electricity buying office to sort them out, but decide to try one last time…. And after a bit of jiggling around, the meter recognises my card, adds the electricity, and all is well with the world again.

See, I’ve had this habit for a long time now of buying 200 kuai worth of power at a time. It usually lasts six weeks to two months. Having bought power just before National Day, I should’ve known that it would be running out about now, but somehow that did not register with either lzh or I.

But I still had to pay the phone bill… Did I ever mention I hate banks? Anyway, on the way to paying the phone bill I bumped into another colleague and we got talking and talk turned to lunch, and lunch turned to more talk, and eventually some time after two I got to the bank to pay the bill. The nearby Beijing Rural Credit is pretty good for that, the queue is never long, so that was easy enough.

So then I grabbed my empties and wandered round to the market. My beer people hadn’t gotten their delivery, no beer, not one bottle, just a crate over-flowing with empties. Tomorrow, they said. I believe them. I go there too often for them to cheat me, and I go there because they’ve never tried to pull anything on me. So, and here’s showing just how stubborn I can be, I wandered past at least two other stores selling beer and up to a small supermarket, the one with the obviously fake whiskey, and other whiskeys and vodkas that I would love to buy if I could believe they were real. Why? Because I trust them to sell me cans of Tsingtao, and they too have never tried to pull anything on me. I won’t buy spirits from them, but I trust them with beer.

And why did I walk past two other stores I know sell Tsingtao bottles, stores where I can recycle my empties? Because I’m stubborn. I have exchanged sharp words with the people in those two stores because they have tried to cheat me. It’s not much, all of 5 mao per bottle, but if you’re going to treat me like that, I’m taking my money elsewhere. You lose, I get more exercise.

And the result of all this is the catching up on paperwork I wanted to get done I didn’t get done. I think I’m going to wind up spending my weekend in the office. I want all this out of the way before my parents arrive.

But the air has cleared up brilliantly today. Not perfect, still a bit of haze off in the distance, but still much, much better than normal. Today’s wind did it’s job well.

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