Stickman Readers' Submissions May 12th, 2004

The Phone Calls Were Unanswered

By Adelaide Ian

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I took a trip to Hua Hin. I'm not sure if you'd call it a story about the Thai mentality, the mentality of greed or the stupidity of tipping for nothing.

We had negotiated a fare of 1,500 baht over the phone with a taxi driver who'd been recommended by a friend. For that sum he'd pick us up at our Bangkok hotel in a new taxi and deliver us to our accommodation in Hua Hin. Unlike Pattaya where taxis often get a return fare to Bangkok our driver would almost certainly have to return empty. Still he would probably clear 900 baht without any of the stop / start driving in Bangkok traffic and that is good money for driving a taxi. The trip was uneventful and upon arrival I handed over the 1,500. Much to my surprise and slight annoyance my girlfriend gave him an extra hundred as a tip despite the fact that he had done simply what he'd been paid to do. Drive us to Hua Hin, no more, no less.

The afternoon before we were due to return to Bangkok and my girlfriend phoned the taxi driver to arrange our pickup. Despite my limited Thai I could understand that negotiations were going poorly with a lot of numbers being thrown around. Finally after several mai pen rais she hung up the phone extremely angry and made several comments about the stupidity of Thai men.

It seemed that initially he'd complained that he'd have to drive down to Hua Hin with an empty taxi to pick us up despite the fact he'd previously returned to Bangkok from the original trip empty. After that outburst he began to tell my girlfriend that he'd be arriving at a particular time which suited him but not us, to which he was told that we would be deciding at what time we chose to return to Bangkok. Finally he requested an extra 200 baht over the 1,500 baht negotiated. When my girlfriend made it clear that we'd
already agreed on 1,500 baht the translation of what he said went something like this: "Well, just give me the extra 100 baht you gave me before. It's only farang money after all". It seems our taxi driver had taken the extra 100 baht tip not as a gratuity but as some kind of desperation on our part to secure his services for the return trip. Apparently it hadn't occurred to him that there are any number of ways to travel from Hua Hin to Bangkok and we were easily able to locate a local with his own private luxury car who regularly picks up and returns visitors between Bangkok and Hua Hin. During the return trip my girl friend's mobile rang 7 times from the taxi driver's number as no doubt the stupidity of his greed was now dawning upon him.

Needless to say the phone calls were not answered.

Stickman's thoughts:

That is exactly why I seldom tip. I remember when we moved into a new apartment building and Mrs Stick was quick to say, "don't tip the motorcycle riders because if you do they will expect that price from then on."

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