THE FOREIGN EXCHANGE WAIT

I had a crazy dream last night. It felt like it was taking place some time around the end of this year, and I was no longer in China. I was back in the USA. My wife was with me, and we were comfortably waiting inside a bank.

I looked across the lobby, and watched customers walk in and out, as they paused to zip up their jackets on their way through the exit. Others would knock snow off their shoes on their way inside. My wife asked me if I wanted one of the Jolly Rancher candies that were kept in a bowl on the service desk, and I uncharacteristically said yes. The wrapper crinkled in my hands, and opened to reveal a glowing rectangular emerald inside. Sour Apple. I could distinctly taste it, and I could feel it click against my teeth as it slipped around in my mouth.

We were waiting for the bank officer to return with paperwork that came from my accountant in China, to let me know if everything was approved for me to transfer all of my assets to the bank I was currently standing in. She walked briskly across the lobby, with a big smile on her face. Her high-heeled shoes spiked little dimples into the carpet and left a temporary trail of dots behind her as she approached us, and she thrust her hand toward me while approvingly nodding her head and mouthing the words, “Everything is ready to go.”

And then I woke up. Of course, this is the sort of thing that could only happen in a fucking dream. In the real world, moving money from China to the USA in larger than usual amounts is not an activity that certain people would find very amusing, on either side of the planet.

On the Chinese side, I’m pretty sure that at least half of any agents involved in the transaction would be making their best effort to look aloof and disinterested, while plotting various ways to skim and loot my accounts before transferring funds. A little here, a little there. Something for the family, plus a little something extra for somebody’s mistress. Besides, it doesn’t look like the rich laowai and his traitorous wife will be coming back. As we all know, they owe the Chinese people for a century of humiliation! Or was it a millennium? Whatever. Now I’m taking double.

On the American side, my smiling bank officer would coolly inform me that the process might take a little while, as her fingers frantically smash the secret panic button located underneath her desk. Big fake smile, and some idle chatter about how much snow we’re getting this winter. Not long after that, the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and probably even the IRS, would watch the SWAT team throw flash-bang grenades through the windows, moments before moving in on our position. Can’t take any chances, you know. There’s no possible way that a guy who spent fifteen years residing in enemy territory would just pop back up on the radar screen, unless he was up to something. Him and his “wife.” Affirmative?

Okay, then.

It seems like the beginning of a James Patterson novel, when I look at these words on my screen. Maybe it would make a good story, or at least a chapter in a book, some day. Some of the best ones are forged from unfortunate circumstances, you know? As a foreigner in China who just wants to permanently close this chapter of his life story, I suddenly find myself with an enormous amount of inspiration to keep better notes.