I was Born on A Wednesday, But Not Last Wednesday
Boy, I really thought I was getting the hang of things in Thailand. The bus routes, movie theaters, the good bars and not so good bars. The markets were actually making sense to me and I knew when those nice little old little ladies would sometimes inflate the purchase a few baht but I took it in stride always smiling and suggesting that maybe tomorrow the price might come down a little…..we would continue smiling at each other until I said thank you, see you again.
On major purchases, I would usually have a Thai friend with me, But not always.
About a year ago, I opted to give up the old Nokia 3310 for one of the new "fancy" phones, less weight, smaller and with all those wonderful ring tones (rolling eyes). Besides I wanted make a fashion statement to off-set the old K-mart shirts and nasty tennis shoes I was still wearing around.
I priced different models and brands. I was happy with the old 3310 Nokia I had purchased before so my shopping was limited to just pricing the Nokia brand. At the time I was living in Pattaya and Big C was just around the corner so off I went for my new toy. Upstairs must have 276 ++ mobile phone shops who all sell the model I wanted. The actual Nokia dealer shop was unwilling to discount or throw in a little "something" to off set their higher price, so I decided to buy from one of the other 275 phone shops available.
God she was beautiful. A perfect peach, 100 pounds maximum, 5 foot 6 inches, maybe 7, a tank top holding a mouthful of goods and the most wonderful pair of faded 501s that I hadn’t seen in days. After explaining to her that I had "checked prices" and that I wanted to buy model XXXX, does she happen to have that model for sale today? But of course, she has it in stock, bends over, for what seemed like several minutes to retrieve this brand new shrink wrapped box containing my new phone. Who is this shrink wrap guy anyway?……Can you buy anything in Thailand that isn’t shrink wrapped? He must be making millions.
Anyway, after a short lesson on how to use the phone and picking out "my special number" and assuring me that it has a one year guarantee, I gladly handed over several weeks of bar fines for my new little toy. I was happy. She was happy, hell, everyone was happy today in Big C.
One year, 48 days and three hours later, I can’t make calls. I can’t receive calls. I notice the signal strength "bar" has vanished. Ah, but sometimes it shows itself for a day or two and vanishes again. Damn, as long as the "bar" shows everything works fine, but it’s becoming a pain in the azz because the "bar" disappears most every time I want to make a call.
I just happened to be hanging around Bangkok when this "bar" thing started so off to the real Nokia headquarters to have them check the phone. Guess what? I brought a semi-copy of my favorite Nokia phone, so the service center tells me. Apparently Nokia has a main computer system that logs all the sold Nokias and mine wasn’t in the system. The sales person further said that the "main board" inside was very old and was the reason my phone wasn’t working as it should be.
After thanking her, I went home and realized I had been had by my little 100 pound darling at the Big C shopping center selling me a near perfect copy of Nokia, in the brand new shrink packaged box, wearing the most sexy pair of Levis I had seen in days.
Is there a moral to this adventure besides not buying phones at these little phone center places and instead, paying a few hundred baht more at a legitimate dealer?
But now I remember two more small details of that peach of a girl at the phone shop. Those faded 501's were not a copy and the reason she took so long to stand up after bending over to retrieve my new shrink wrapped phone, was the result of nearly 6 pounds of gold she had on her neck.
It’s funny how the little details are remembered after the fact.
Happy shopping my brother farangs.
Life is never dull in Thailand!