Stickman Readers' Submissions March 23rd, 2005

OK, The Bad Guy – An Open Letter To Kiwi James

Everybody loves a happy ending! I have been following your story since the first article appeared on the Stickman website almost two years ago. It was so refreshing to read the success story of what seems like two genuinely nice people, and
it is sad to se it all falling apart so soon.

After reading your latest letter and your wife’s letter to Stickman, I sat down and started writing. It proved to be a lesson in frustration. I went back and re-read all of your previous articles. The more I read, the more I realized; there is
only one issue that really matters. Trying to fix the problems in your marriage is like polishing the brass fittings on the Titanic. The ship is still going down, and the fact that you can afford a first class cabin, is not going to do you much
good. Your only hope is to patch up the giant gaping hole in the side of the boat.

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Mr. Knong must be the blindest wise man south of Mongolia. While he is busy sprinkling magic water on your head he cannot see the massive shadow of the demon in his waiting room. Your wife’s mother has a serious gambling problem. Most of her extended
family has a serious gambling problem. Your wife, if not yet a compulsive gambler, is well on her way. Gambling addiction is a serious issue on par with drug addiction and alcoholism.

I happen to live within a relatively short drive of the largest gambling casino in the Farang world (Foxwoods). The revenue of this place rivals the GNP of many small countries. Gambling never held much fascination for me, but most of my friends go down
there once or twice a year. Sometimes they come back with a few thousand dollars in their pockets, and other times they come back empty handed. It might even be enough to make them a little bit exited for a day or two, but then they forget about
it, and get on with their lives. These people do not have a gambling problem.

Every time I go to put gas in the car I seem to end up waiting in line behind somebody buying those annoying two dollar scratch tickets. I see them standing just outside the door of the store, poorly dressed, shivering in the cold while scratching franticly
to se if they’ve won something. Whenever they find a winner they head right into the store to buy another stack of tickets. “Can’t quit while you’re on a winning steak you know”. When they are done scratching
you see them shuffling back to their tiny apartments, tail between their legs, probably pondering where they can borrow some money for food, until next month's government check comes in the mail. It is the same couple of dozen faces I see
all the time, and they always look miserable. At the beginning of every month (when the welfare checks come in the mail), there are cheap bus trips arranged down to the casinos in Connecticut. These people do have a gambling problem.

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With the huge amounts of money being “invested” into gambling in my area it stands to reason that I would know quite a few people that have made it rich. It might surprise you to know that I have never even met such a person. I don’t
think I know anybody that has met such a person. A few years ago a newspaper did a national study comprising those few people that had won a significant (life altering) amount of money in the last decade. I think their criteria were one million
dollars (US) or more. To their surprise they found that five years after their big win most of these people were completely broke and some were in serious debt.

So why this long rant about gambling; after all Stickman already made the same point in his comments to your last letter. Well; I am simply trying to drive home what a serious issue this really is. Most people who go out for a few drinks on the weekend
are not alcoholics. Most people who join a friendly game of cards every now and then are not compulsive gamblers. Most of your wife’s family does have a serious gambling problem. The fact that half the village have got the same problem
does not make it ok. Compulsive gambling is not about getting rich. Like most addictions compulsive gambling is about feeding the addiction.

I’m sure you have had many dreams about the simple idyllic life in a small Isaan village, who hasn’t? I am sure this life is a possibility for some people, but I do not see it happening for you. Unfortunately you picked the wrong family.
I am not saying they are bad people, in fact I quite like them, but they have got a serious problem that is always going to hold them back. What’s more important; “you are not going to fix the problem no matter how hard you try”.
Why do you think your mother-in-law was living in a tiny shack with no furniture (other than a broken car seat) when you first met her? Your rich brother in law complemented you on your smart thinking when you first went out and bought her some
furniture. Do you think perhaps he was just being polite? Do you think perhaps he had realized a long time ago that throwing money on this problem was just going to make it worse?

Mr. Knong might have been right about one thing; your energy right now is probably at a very low level. I doubt very much though that black magic is the culprit. As a man it is your duty to do what you can to protect your family. You can not do that by
driving yourself into the ground. Allowing your mother-in-law to “protect” you is insane. Would you cure low blood pressure, with blood sucking leaches? The way I see it you have to get out of her reach as quickly as you can. I am
not talking divorce, just physically getting away. One option could be to rent a small apartment in a nearby city. I seem to remember that you have one about 80 miles away. This is close enough that your wife can commute back and forth as she
pleases, while you both try to work things out. Don’t let your wife and her family guilt you into thinking you are abandoning your duties. It is her duty to stand by you, just as much as it is you duty to stand by her. It is her duty, as
well as yours, to make sure your daughter can grow up in a healthy environment. In the end it all boils down to this:

– Unless you want to live your life as a doormat you can not continue staying in the village.
– Unless you want your daughter to grow up with a father nobody respects, you can not continue staying in the village.
– Your wife’s problem
will only get worse the longer she stays in the village.
– You can not help an addict unless he or she wants to be helped.
– You can not help an addict unless he or she first admits that they have a problem.
– Even when they realize
there is a problem, recovery is hard work. There is no guarantee of a successful outcome.
– Most addicts will not admit that they have a problem.
– Most Thais will not admit that they have a problem.

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I sincerely hope you can work things out with your wife, but if I was a gambler, I would not put my money on it.

Sorry to be so hard core, but I call it the way I see it. Being nice and polite is not going to help you solve your problems. There is always the possibility that my judgment is wrong, so feel free to ignore me.


When I first red your “pledge” to your wife and her family there was something vaguely familiar about it. I red it a few more times but could not quite put my finger on it. Finally it came to me from somewhere far back in a corner of my
mind……. “Boxer”……. That’s who your pledge reminded me off. “Boxer”……. the old horse from “Animal Farm *” ……. The old horse that responded to every problem, and every crisis, with
the same solution; “I will work harder”. The old horse that worked so hard he finally broke down and could not work anymore; and that was in return “rewarded” with a one way trip to the glue factory.

* Book by George Orwell.

Stickman's thoughts:

Yes, yes, yes. I'm in full agreement!

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