Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Falling into a new routine

We have settled into a routine of life since we are both working now. I had a funny experience the other day that is sort of the result of the monotonic pattern our lives have taken.

No one, not even the locals, trust the tap water in China, so almost everyone uses 5 gallon bottles. The only thing you can use the tap for is washing clothes, dishes and to shower. Everythng else you use bottled water for, even when you rinse your mouth after you brush your teeth. At our work places, you won't find water fountains that would be common in the states, but you have bottled water stations around almost every corner.

Since we have to use the 5 gallon bottles, we're never wasteful in our usage. The only problem is that we use more than 1 bottle of water per week, usually 1.5. So we don't have to worry about running short we keep three 5G water bottles at any time. We go to our apartment clubhouse (the management office) to order, pay for and set up delivery of the bottles.

We live in a large apartment complex. Speciffically we live at 1599 Ding Xiang Lu, Building 19, Apartment 1301. Yes, we live on floor 13, but thirteen isn't unlucky in China. Instead, four, 14, 24, etc are, because the word for 4 sounds like death.

To give meaning to this address let me say that there are at least 30 buildings in the complex, which each has 26 stories, and each floor in a building has 2 or 4 apartments per floor. I would estimate that about 1/6 of the buildings have 2-story apartments. At this point, the math teacher in me wants everyone to compute the minimum and maximum possible number of apartments in our complex. Hahaha...

Since the name of this blog is Shiner to Shanghai, its worth pointing out that there are more people who live in our apartment complex than do in Shiner. I'm not sure what the latest census results are for Lavaca County.... To add to the size of our complex, the developer is now in the process of building Phase II of the complex: it will be at 1399 Ding Xiang Lu and is almost equal in size to Phase I we live in.

So Monday night, after I got home from work I had to go order water bottles, a normal event in my life now. I was told they would be delivered by 7pm, which was more than an hour away. I was walking home from the clubhouse and walked into the building by catching the door from a family that was walking out. I held the elevator for a lady who entered the building behind me, and she was thankful. Once she was on, I tried to use my access card that was still in my wallet to access the other floors of the buiding. It didn't scan, which sometimes happens, so she scanned her card and hit the button for floor 21 and I hit the button for floor 13.

I stepped off the elevator at floor 13, and heard the elevator shut behind me. But it didn't look like our floor. I turned quickly to see what floor the sign by the elevator said, I was on floor 13. There was the sounds of a family resonating in the hallway from one of the apartments, which is typical on our floor. The smell of Chinese food, a normal smell on our floor, filled the air. I checked the sign again, still floor 13, but not our floor.

At this point, I start to think, "What's wrong? I'm in China. I'm in an apartment building. Is there a hole in the space-time continumum? Am I caught in a bad episode of The Twilight Zone? Or is it just that my flux capacitor is broke?"

I went to push the down button for the elevators, which were now on floors 21 and 6. While the one on 21 returned to 13, I waited anxiously, and tried to act suave. I tried to pretend like I was supposed to be there, like I was in control, all the while trying to ignore the thoughts that were racing through my head at an ever increasing rate. This entire act was for no one, as I was alone in the common area. The elevator arrived, I jumped on and hit the button for the ground floor. Once on solid ground I jetted out the front doors to inspect the building number. 26, not 19. I entered one building too soon.

I laughed it off as I continued what should have been my original stroll home. But I looked over my shoulder at the same time to make sure know one else was aware of my mistake. I was still alone, and felt confident that I had hid my own silliness.

The water arrived on schedule Monday night, but I honestly forgot to tell Jim about my time warp incident until Tuesday evening. He got a good laugh out of the situation. He almost made the same mistake once, but was unable to gain entry to building 26, and figured it out at that point. He couldn't beleive how long it took me to figure out what was wrong.

Hope you got a laugh out of it too.


Unknown said...

I had excel open while reading the blog and was trying to figure out the average number of occupants, but quickly stopped when I read you wanted others to figure it out. Blast you:) I guess that makes me the goob?

Max E. Harris said...

At least you weren't rushing to your flat to go to the toilet and figured you had just made it when...