Illusion Number 243
Royal Garden Plaza (RGP) is basically situated in the middle of Beach Road in Pattaya. Lots of shops and food places to eat and even a half way decent movie theater. As long as you don’t mind paying 20% to 50% more for a product compared to just outside the shopping center, you should have a wonderful time looking around and window shopping in air conditioned comfort.
I have lived in Thailand nearly three years and one of the weird things I had to learn was getting used to leaving my helmet in the little wire basket on my rented motorbike. Back home you lock everything if you wanted to see it the next morning.
In Thailand, I have parked in all kinds of sois, streets, alleys, all hours of the day and night, sometimes being on a hunting mission for many unaccounted for hours. Returning to where I parked the motorbike (If I could remember) I’d always find it in its proper place. Sometimes moved a few inches or feet, But never a scratch on it and everything I forgot to take out, still inside the little wire basket of my motorbike.
Sometimes I resort back to my old paranoid self and actually park in a secured and proper parking lot, the ones where you pay a small parking fee but have the knowledge that if the hunting mission lasts longer than a few hours, the motorbike would be safe with all the little uniformed guards walking around.
Enter Illusion number 243.
Just because there are security guards around doesn’t mean that your little wire basket on the front of your rented motorbike is off limits to prying eyes and hands.
I had parked the motorbike as close to the security guard/parking attendant as possible for that extra feeling of knowing my little wire basket wouldn’t be violated with unwanted hands. I knew my glossy colored blue helmet was safe inside the wire mesh.
I should have known that the motorbike rental lady had given me the standard dirty, banged up gray helmet with my rental, for a reason, but my eye saw this new glossy blue helmet hanging on the wall of her shop and I couldn’t resist. "Can I have that pretty blue helmet instead of this old one"? No problem sir, up to you.
Boy was I proud. The blue glossy helmet actually matched the glossy blue color of the motorbike I had rented. I was making a fashion statement. The girls would notice my creative touch. I was going to have an easy hunting mission because I was color coordinated.
I returned from the (RGP) upstairs shopping area after about 15 minutes because I just needed to buy a newspaper and was a little surprised to find my little wire basket had been violated. My matching helmet was missing. No, I thought, I must be looking at the wrong motorbike. Easy to do in the sea of motorbike parking lots. I checked the key ring which had the tag number to the motorbike I had rented. Sure enough, the tag matched the motorbike, but no color coordinated helmet! The basket was empty. My little wired basket had been violated. I just stood there a few moments looking. My cherry had been popped. I have never had anything stolen from me in Thailand, except my heart.
I look over at the security guard/attendant sitting there pounding away at his calculator. Damn !!! How many times a day do these people check and recheck the profits for the day? It seems whenever there is a free moment in the customer flow, they pick up that calculator and start crunching the numbers, checking the money against the sales / bin receipts.
I walk over and explained to him that someone had violated my little wire basket! Well, actually I said someone had stolen my helmet from my motorbike. His look was worth a million, TOTAL DENIAL and back to pounding out the numbers on his calculator.
I again told him that my helmet was stolen and I wanted to speak to a supervisor. If looks could kill, you wouldn’t be reading this right now. A quick few words in his walkie-talkie and not one, but two cute little uniformed security guys show up. I explain (for the third time) that someone has stolen my helmet. I explained that I purposely parked in the paid, secured underground parking lot of the Royal Garden Plaza so that my little wire basket and contents would be safe from naughty sticky fingers. The canned response was something to the effect that the Royal Garden Plaza wasn’t responsible for damage or loss of property. I asked them what the advantage was of parking in a paid parking lot with security guards as opposed to parking in the street in front of the shopping center, for free? Total blank looks. I really do need to learn the language, but would it actually help in this situation? I doubt it.
The older of the two supervisors whips out his mobile and tells me I can talk to Farang. I think to myself, Ah great, I get to talk to the Head MotherFuc*er in charge, a Farang.
(Sorry guys), But some English chap on the other end of this mobile phone conversion with me starts giving me some canned response about how his security force will review the video tapes. Video tapes? He asks me to write down the approximate time of arrival and departure etc etc. He carries on about once the identification is made of the suspect etc etc…..Yeah right. I’m thinking to myself, who the Fxxx does he think he is talking too? I was insulted to think he actually thought I was believing his line of Bullocks. My response was this. I said ‘Look pal, I just paid to park my motorbike in your secured parking area with security guards everywhere. I parked very near the attendant/security guard to insure my little wired motorbike basket was safe. I return 10 minutes later and my basket was violated. My glossy blue helmet had vanished from it’s friend, the wired basket.
I suggested to him that perhaps I was negligent in not securing my color coordinated helmet in my little wire basket, but I also suggested that maybe security was busy doing other things besides doing what they are paid to do, watching people's wire baskets. I suggested that (RGP) share the expense of a new helmet, 50-50. I told him I saw helmets on sale for 195 baht at Big C a couple of days ago. There is a moment of silence and he says, "oh, the security guard isn’t really a security guard, he just collects the parking fees. Huh?? What does the security guard have to do with splitting the cost of a new helmet I think to myself.
What a jerk, and I hang up the phone.
So there you have it, he dresses like a security guard, acts like a security guard, he is inside the security guard box, but he isn’t really a security guard. He only collects the parking fees and checks his calculator every chance he has. WTF !! TiT !!
Side bar: The younger of the two supervisors actually says he is sorry for what has happened. I actually believe he is sincere. I tell him, mai pen rai (never mind). I say I need to buy another helmet at Big C and I hope I don’t get stopped by the police for not wearing a helmet. A big smile comes across his face. His eyes light up. He then offers to lend me his dirty old helmet so I can motorbike my ass up to Big C and buy another helmet. At first I decline his offer but he continues, "the police won’t yak you if you wear my helmet."
I take him up on his offer. I ride up to Big C wearing his old nasty gray colored helmet. I buy a new fancy colored coordinated helmet for 195 baht. I am on top of the world again. I got my glossy blue motorbike and fancy new glossy blue matching helmet again. The girls will notice. The hunting mission will be a breeze tonight.
But seriously, that was so nice of him to lend me his helmet in my time of need. I almost grabbed him by the shoulders and gave him a big kiss on the cheek…..ahhhh…….. but how unmanly that would be.
I love Thailand, I really do. Honest.