Stampgate

At risk of using my blog as a platform for complaining, yesterday was impressively bizarre. Since we just moved, I wanted to go to the police station and register as new residents of this area. For the record, we probably could have got away with not doing that, but we’d like to do things as above board as possible. Feeling especially helpful, I took along the resident permit for our last house. Big mistake. Would have been better to lose it.

 

Steven and I went to the police station. Directed to some dinky little room on the third floor (the birthplace of power trips) where one guy sat a little desk. He was happy to help, until I offered him the previous permit. He scanned it and found an incongruity: the stamp on the paper was not the same as the district we were living in. Which convinced him that I hired someone to fake this for us. He then took my student ID, my copy of the form, and told us to go back to the police station by our original house and find out who stamped this. Big trouble for them, apparently.

 

Bewildered, we go back to the old police station. I remembered then that when we had gone there last year, a certain English-speaking officer had helped us. He had given me his phone number. At the police station, we go to some office with two cops. They hear the story, look over the paper, and… “impossible” they say. Oh, okay. Thanks for clearing that up. The cop I remember doesn’t work there anymore, they say. Not only that, but they claim the form that I have wasn’t even used until this year. And I got it stamped there last year. So they’re sure of two things: I’m remembering wrongly and didn’t get it stamped there (or got it faked) and that this is a serious crime.

 

At one point, the dude actually said to me, “This is a serious crime. You need to find out who stamped this for you.” Really? The cop tells me that I need to investigate a serious crime. Isn’t that your job? Especially since they apparently have no better way to occupy their time. These two guys sat there with us for an hour and a half, doing absolutely nothing. Then they recommend we go to the university and ask them if they’re the ones that gave me this form.

 

So we do. Get to the university offices, talk to the guy in charge of foreign students. Guess what – “impossible.” Joker tries to jog my memory: “so did the person that did this for you ask you for any special favors? Was the place you went like a normal police station?” Unreal. I went to that police station last year with my wife, an adult Chinese friend of ours, and the owner of the house we were renting. But I’m a foreigner, so I must be remembering wrongly. Guy didn’t get snippy with me until I pointed out that this incredibly wrong form was accepted by their office last year when I brought it in. At which point he threatened me and told me that if I was going to talk to him like that, he wasn’t interested in helping me. I was tempted to further point out that he had just said that he couldn’t help me.

 

Strangest thing about all of this – no one will tell us what to do. No one has mentioned money. No one has said what steps we should take to get out of this mess. Guy at the university calls back the original power-tripper (a friend of his) and asks if we should go back and see him. He says, “Don’t worry – I’ll find them.” Great. Come and get me. Most trouble I’ve ever got in from trying to do things legit.

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