Thursday, June 13, 2013

It's Electric (Boogey Woogey Woogey Woogey)

The whole shenanigans with our lap top not charging really started in the States when Jake decided to bring his XBox to China. I rolled my eyes at this luxury as I often do when at home, but thought, "Whatever, he likes it." And then he tried to plug it in in China and *zzzzzt* zapped. Two wall outlets failed, one power strip failed, one electrical converter failed. (I hope his XBox still works.)

After observing Helen teaching a 1:1 lesson yesterday, she sent us with two students, Martin and Mark, on a mad quest for electrical converters, all convinced that this is the miracle fix we need. M & M first take us to Sunning, an enormous electronics store with a first floor dedicated to Sony, Samsung, Apple, Dell, and numerous other electronic brands, and a second floor dedicated to fans and lamps. Martin engages in a long, drawn out dialogue with the clerks about where we could find some converters - which is apparently a very foreign word/concept to the people in Qinhuangdao - and apparently we cannot find them in Sunning. So we go to Tesco, a shoppers' wonderland with a first floor dedicated to mall-like shops, and a second and third floor set up like traditional American department stores (complete with English subtitles!). No go. They send us to another store whose name I don't remember and again no go. That stores sends us to China Mobile, about a 10 minute walk, where they mercifully have converters, but try to swindle us one for 80Yuan ($13), which is really not a good deal. Martin talks them down to 50Y ($8) and we buy it and go on our way. Mark buys us some melon on a stick and Jake and I head back to our apartment to try out our coveted converter. Wah-wah. Works forhis phone; doesn't charge the lap top.

Jake and I head out on our own with the intent to go to Tesco for some more soda and a clock. (No clocks in the apartment - it is the land that time forgot.) On our way, we remember passing at least one (turns out we passed at least five) store with an Apple logo on it. We hit up three before we find one with what we're looking for. I point the MacBook on display and say, "Mei yo (no)" while pointing at the computer and "Dui (yes)" while pointing at the cord. The clerk frantically searches for her keys, which is quite the process, and finally finds them, opens up the locked Apple cabinet, gets us a cord, and I look at it really hard, trying to piece together why it looks so damn familiar, and I realize it's the same wattage and has the same prongs as my cord. But nevertheless, I am convinced of our need, so she tries to sell it to us for 588Y ($95). Jake opens the wallet and says, "We don't have enough." She asks us how much we have and Jake slams 455Y on the table. Sold, with negotiation of return with inked, stamped receipt. Unfortunately now we have no cash, so we can't go to Tesco.

We get home and breathe a sigh of relief because it works. And I wake up at 6:00 a.m. and think again, "That is the exact same charger I have." So I go out and cross-examine my charger versus our ridiculously expensive "Chinese" charger and realize - to my utter shock - that our Chinese charger is MADE IN CALIFORNIA, same wattage, same prongs. Tentatively, I plug mine in. No zappage, and success! So today we can return our "Chinese" charger and get our money back, so we can go to Tesco and buy groceries and clocks.

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