My new roommate had been living in the Southern part of the province before moving up here. One of her former local workmates offered to arrange to have her belonging shipped up by train. The train company was suppose to arrange for a driver to swing by her old apartment, load all the stuff on a truck, drive it to the train station, move it from the truck to the train and have it delivered right to our house here in the capital. The first part of the transaction went off without a hitch. However, the driver on this end of the move, pulled the truck up to the outside door of our apartment building dumped the whole load off the truck in a heaping pile at the door of our stair well and wanted us to sign that it had been delivered.
We argued with him that, we didn’t live outside and that he still hadn’t finished his job. We had paid to have these things taken right up to our third floor apartment. He told us the bags were heavy and he was only one man, that he couldn’t be expected to carry them up three flights of stairs. We tried arguing that we wouldn’t sign until they were inside our door. It was one of those ‘put on your fight face situations’ and we started yelling at him in the national language. He condescendingly told us we didn’t understand, and that he had done his job. So we called her former work mate , who confirmed our suspicion that the stuff was suppose to be dropped off inside the apartment. The workmate called the train company, the train company called me and agreed that the driver was not doing his job. I passed my phone over to the driver so that they could yell at him for a change. The driver just kept saying that he didn’t have time to take it all upstairs for us. We could follow his whole end of the conversation, but the story he told us when he got off the phone didn’t match.
Meanwhile a Uyghur guy who is on guard duty in our apartment complex had witnessed the whole thing. He said he was more than willing to find some guys that could move it for us… for a price of course. That price seemed to go up and up and up the longer we waited. At first he said about 15 dollars, by the end he said that was per person and that it would likely be closer to 100 dollars to get it up the stairs. The train company had admitted it was their fault and were willing to reimburse us about $ 35 if we could find someone to move it all for that price. But the gate guard wanted more. The longer he spoke the more I felt ripped off. Moving house is normally really cheap here. But the guy was asking more per hour than I can even make teaching English as a foreigner. I pointed that out and he just stood there almost proud of the fact I was stuck.
It was almost eight o’clock at night, we were standing outside in the freezing cold as two young women (both with bad legs) starring back and forth from her 500 kilo of luggage laying abandoned on the ground to the foreboding stairwell that led to our home. Meanwhile two able bodied men stood there grinning self satisfied smiles around their cigarette butts… knowing full well we would eventually have to pay them the extra money they wanted to solve our problem.
What they weren’t counting on was the fact that we have friends. I called some of the American guys who also live in town and they said they would grab a few people and come right over. The guys arrived and willingly lent a hand. The four of them took several trips up and down the stairs never complaining about having to leave their evening plans or heaviness of the bags (okay, they did make a few snide comments about the lack of chivalry in this country- where two guys could stand around and watch us suffering without offering to help. Within twenty minutes of their arrival, all the bags and boxes were safely in our apartment. Although some of them were covered in a weird smelling, sticky blood like substance - we think her boxes/bags were packed on the train next to a shipment of meat or animal skins, thankfully it didn’t soak through.
So since the train company is still willing to pay us as an apology for the lazy driver that dropped the stuff at the door, we have money to treat the guys to a nice thank you dinner.