China Elevator Stories

My family of five

I pick up pictures at a Kodak store in Shenzhen.


Ruth Silbermayr
Ruth Silbermayr


One day in December 2013 I go to pick up pictures at a small Kodak shop near my place in Shenzhen. I want to put some pictures on the wall to make our flat look more comfy. When I enter the shop, the guy behind the counter takes a few passport photos in his hands and says: “Your family of five.”
I say: “I’m sorry?”
He tells me: “Your family of five. These are the photos for your visa.”

passport pictures illustration - Ruth Silbermayr

He starts to show me the pictures, the first one is showing a foreign guy, the second one is a foreign woman and the other pictures are showing their three sons. The oldest of them seems to be in his teens, which, if I were his mom, would make me a very young mom, I guess.

His co-worker sees my confusion and is fast to tell him: “Those aren’t her photos. Her pictures are over there.”
With this little hint, he’s able to find my photos. We all laugh and after they hand me my pictures, I go back home to decorate our walls.

Have you ever been mistaken for another foreigner?

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