In two years of living in my apartment, the water company has only come once to read the meter. They informed us that the bill hasn’t been paid in more than four years, and that it was now at an astronomical amount. Fearing that they would shut off the water, I offered to pay the bill on the spot, pulling out my wallet to prove that I had the money (which, fortunately, I did). No dice. The bill, said the worker, was so high that it would have to be sent to the head office. However, he did say that he would note that rich foreigners were living in the apartment and could afford to pay the bill. Evidently that did the job because no meter readers ever showed up again and the water has still not been shut off.

Today, I came home–only six weeks from moving out of here–and found a scary-looking official notice on the door. It even had a chop (official stamp) on it, so it was clear that it meant business. “Oh no!” I thought. The water bill must have finally caught up to me, right when I was about to get away scot-free without having to pay it, and after overstaying my lease to burn up my remaining deposit. I couldn’t recognize the character for water (水) on the notice, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t a water bill.

Scary Notice On Door image

A scary note that was pasted on my door.

Worried, I scanned the notice and sent it to a Chinese friend, who was helpful enough to translate. The cable bill for my nonexistent television was overdue. Evidently, when I asked the landlord to take away the television (because there is nothing to watch, and the TV took up too much space) she never bothered to cancel cable. If I didn’t pay the past due balance immediately, my cable will be cancelled as of December 1st.

Damn. What will I ever do without CCTV 9?