Thursday, June 01, 2006

Buying a Car and get well soon, me

I’ve been sick with various forms of a cold for almost two weeks now and I am damn sick of it. I had a doctor’s appointment Tuesday morning but I cancelled it because I woke up feeling better and thought it was all past. But the last two days I’ve actually gotten worse. I don’t ever, ever remember being this whacked by a cold. It started as s ore throat, became laryngitis and has migrated into convulsive cough and steady stream of gunk coming out of my nose.

I slept until 8:30 this morning, which is two hours later than normal and half hour after the kids to leave for school. Becky bless her heart called off the pack and left me alone and got them all out the door alone. I was shocked when I saw what time it was.

Yes, I am finally going to a doctor tomorrow. I hesitated because I figured it’s just a cold, there’s nothing to do and they will probably say I have sinusitis regardless of hat’s really going on and give me antibiotics which I probably don’t need. But I am throwing in the towel. Maybe I really do have sinusitis. I confess that Dixie influenced this thinking.

I’ve been plugging along with some work, but finding it hard to concentrate, what with my coughs and sweats and constant nose blowing. So I am now behind the 8 ball on a few things, including my next column. I was going to write about the kids’ school and I still might, but it would require, gasp, actual reporting and I just have not had the mojo to deal with it this week.

Hopefully the sun will come out tomorrow and I will feel refreshed and renewed and have a column done by Monday. If I can’t summon up a school themed column, I have a few other tricks up my sleeve , including the story of my massage cupping, which left my back black and blue from top to bottom. I’ve been saving that one. There are others, too.

We are still trying to buy a car, which as been an absolutely hilarious and maddening quest, which will definitely lead to a column, though I need to finish the deal first. We have now picked out the car and settled on a price, but I need to get the money and it’s damn near impossible. They don’t use checks here, even cashier checks. So you have to either wire the money into the dealer’s account, or show up with a bagful of 100 RMB notes, which is apparently what most Chinese do. Supposedly 100 new cars a day takes to the road in Beijing but I will never understand how 1000 cars a month are actually purchased here. I’ll go into all the details eventually, but there are no sticker prices, almost no test drives, many dealers don’t have the model you want, two cars seem the same but cost radically different prices and no one can explain(at least to us) why.

Then there’s the vast confusion about what vehicle you are looking at: “This is a Mitsubishi and this is a Mitsubishi engine in a Chinese car and this is a Mitsubishi-designed engine built in China.” Or “this is a Hyundai and this is a Hindai (Chinese rip-off).” There are services you can use to move through the maze but they basically suck, too. We started out with “Beijing Bob” Foday, a shiny suit wearing Sierra Leone native who went us out on a wild goose chase with a 21-year-old Chinese girl whose only qualification was she spoke somewhat decent English.”

They only use dealers they have guanxi with so we drove all the hell over this sprawling city past about 10 Mitsubishi dealers to get to one under construction in a muddy lot. Becky met me there and Mr. Dou got lost for the first and only time. The cars were in a dusty warehouse and we test-drove them by circling the bumpy lot. So we bumped Beijing Bob and started using Mr. Lui of Expat Car Service. He seems like a nicer guy, not as sharky and more knowledgeable but he has led me into this banking mess. I thought he would know how to navigate that. So there you have it, just the tip of the iceberg really. More to come soon.