amw (amw) wrote,

and we're out

Yesterday was my last day of work. It was one of the more unusual last days of work i have had in my life, because there was no leaving drinks, no card or gift, no awkward speech, i just returned my laptop, gingerly shook hands with a colleague (first post-covid handshake!) and walked out the door.

I'm not sure if they didn't make much fanfare because i was very clear in my exit interview and exit survey the reasons for my departure. Specifically: the company enlisting employees to create party propaganda, the executives not making strong statements on Hong Kong, BLM or any important social issues of the past year, and me getting reported to HR and made to self-censor for publicly expressing my own lived experience in China. I have been open about my reasons with everyone who asked too. Maybe it's embarrassing and they just want me out.

Another take is that due to the utter decimation of the travel industry, the company is anyway bleeding employees - from the CEO down, lots of people have quit since corona hit - and they don't want to make a fuss. Right now the rumor is that another corporate restructure is coming, and a lot of people are scared for their jobs. Even still, it feels like a heel move to not even get a goodbye or thankyou email from my own manager.

But, whatever. Today i was planning to go to the bank to do my final cash transfer to Canada, but i've been thwarted by the bureaucracy. A couple weeks ago HR gave my passport to the police to cancel my one-year residence permit and replace it with a one-month exit visa. This is entirely unnecessary since i could have left the country on my residence permit just like every other damn expat does, but that ain't good enough for this stick-up-the-ass HR team. Anyway, because i don't have my passport back yet, i can't go to the bank to transfer cash.

I suppose it doesn't matter because yesterday i did go to goodbye lunch with a couple colleagues at some shopping mall restaurant, where i got noodles that have subsequently given me explosive diarrhea. Leaving the house will be uncomfortable.

I swear to God, every bourgeois motherfucker who complains about China being full of food poisoning should stop eating at Rich China restaurants and just eat street food or eat at plastic stool restaurants. That shit is far better for your botty as well as being far more delicious.

Anywho, yeah, so work is done. I still haven't packed anything, but i did give away my old tablet and leave one of my two woks outside for someone to claim. I am pretty sure that aside from kitchen stuff all of my remaining belongings will fit comfortably in my backpack. The biggest thing i still need to deal with is the very large stack of paperwork that i have collected over the past 3 years.

I was reading the woes of susandennis and her social security mix-up that was happily resolved within a week or two, and lordy i wish life was so simple here.

As mentioned, i have spent 3 years living in China, throughout all of which i have been eligible for Chinese social security - that is, some level of subsidized healthcare, and a certain percentage of my income going into a pension fund. In all of those 3 years, i have never been able to access the subsidized healthcare, and now that i am leaving China, i am not able to withdraw from my pension fund either.

It's not from lack of trying. In my first two jobs, they assured me HR would sort it out. I was told i would get a letter from the government with a social security card and all would be well. Needless to say that never happened. So when i joined my most recent job i specifically went to apply for the card, bringing all of my documentation and going through the typical hours-long dance with a bunch of bureaucrats who have never seen a foreigner before and therefore have no idea how to process our stuff.

Friends, i am still waiting for my social security card. I have gone back month after month, and each time there is another excuse. Oh, your name is too long for the system, we have to file it again. Oh, the system didn't accept your foreign passport number. Oh, the coronavirus means there is a delay. Oh, now your residence visa has been renewed, we need to refile from scratch. Oh, well, it just isn't ready, come back next month. Fucking hell! I'm lucky i haven't actually been very sick or injured since coming here because lordy.

This week i started the process to withdraw my pension, which as a foreigner you are allowed to do if you are leaving the country. Except after installing the phone app (without which you cannot sign up) and entering all of my personal details, and even seeing that it successfully linked my account into the government database (because it listed the fact that my passport was currently with the police)... It turns out that i am only level 0 and you need to be level 2 or higher to access social security details.

How to level up your score in the government app? Well, one way is to link your WeChat social media account. Except, i don't use WeChat regularly, and because i installed it 3 years ago before the government went full-blown totalitarian, i never went through the whole process of doing facial recognition and uploading scans of my passport to level up my WeChat to whatever degree of blue checkmarked bullshit is required to link it into government services.

I also tried to fill in some other personal details on the website that supposedly should've let me level up, but each time "an error occurred".

So my account is stuck on level 0, which means i have no access to actually do anything, and the FAQ says that to continue i should go into the social security office, and bring my passport (which i can't because it's currently at the police station) and my social security card (which i can't because i'm still waiting for it), and then submit an application which will take at least 5 working days to be processed.

My flight out of the country is in 6 working days.

So, dear Guangdong government, fuck you. 3 years worth of pension payments is not a big deal in the greater scheme of things, but it still pisses me off that i did my part by paying all of my taxes and all of my social security, but i got zero services. Meanwhile most other expats (and even some rich locals) get salary paid into a foreign bank account and make their employer pay for private health insurance. I was given that option when i started and i turned it down because i am not a selfish fucking asshole.

As it turns out, in China, the only people who make it are selfish fucking assholes. Don't believe the hype that this country operates with some kind of Confucian respect for the greater good. Modern China is a dog-eat-dog, consumerist society where pretty much everyone will happily sell out "the greater good" if it gets their family ahead of the Joneses. Doing things by the book will leave you exhausted and worse-off than the ones who cheated their way through.

Meh. It's really not worth the effort for me to continue fighting this bureaucracy. I'll print out all the paperwork i have, haul it back to Canada or wherever, and then maybe one day in the future i will pay some fixer to sort it out for me, or just forget about it. I know my mom was never able to consolidate all her pensions from different countries around the world, and i'll probably die with a bunch of lost cash too. Price of freedom, am i right?

This afternoon at 5pm i am allowed to pick up my passport. Then tomorrow i need to figure out the sublet/rent transfer. I guess going to the bank will have to wait till Monday. Then i am outta here. I don't know if i even have the will to go climb Wutong mountain or visit Guangzhou. I'm done with Guangdong, ready for the next stage.
Tags: china, my boring life
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