Readers' Submissions

Random Acts Of Thainess

  • Written by Joe Farang
  • March 28th, 2005
  • 5 min read

The following thoughts were written at various times, from a year ago to last month.

– One night around midnight, my wife and I got into BKK after a long ride from our home in Isaan. We stopped by a sandwich store. Ahead of us was a farang with a Thai friend, and I could see that the Thai kid making their subs was being a real jerk. He was throwing out all kinds of English slang, apparently trying to impress everyone while literally throwing together sandwiches. It was my turn, I ordered two and watched him again throwing them together. He only put a few pieces of meat in it and very little else. I’m not a cheap charlie by any means, and normally I let the little things go, but this guy was just absolutely rude and didn’t care. I told him I wasn’t going to pay for them unless he made them properly. He ignored me, and rung me up at the register anyway. I politely said again that I wanted the subs made properly. It was at this time my wife walked out because she saw where this was going, and had she stayed the guy would surely have tried to take the matter up with her in Thai. I could see his complete anger and frustration that I wasn’t going to roll over on this, and so I just turned and walked out rather than let things get ridiculous. On the way out the door, I heard a loud, pathetic attempt to yell in English, “fuck you asshole” from the kid. While he may have felt like he was somehow saving face, I could see from his embarrassed female co-workers and the couple that had got their sandwiches in front of me that everyone knew this that finally someone had not put up with kid’s BS. Needless to say, if I want a sandwich and I’m in the same area in Bangkok, I’ll take the extra minute to cross over the road and go to the other sandwich store.

– While our house is in Isaan, I spend the majority of time in Bangkok working. We had just changed apartments in Bangkok for the second time in 3 years, and I hung up the obligatory pictures of the king and queen above our bed in the bedroom. Only this time I unknowingly hung them up rather far apart (maybe 1 meter). For the entire first week and a half of living in our new apartment, my wife absolutely could not sleep at night. She informed me that I had hung the pictures of the king and queen too far apart and that I needed to put them close together. I did so, and since then she has slept soundly every night.

– I think I gave my wife flowers one time about six years ago when we first started seeing each other. It was apparent that it was a pointless gesture (as I’m sure many of you know well) so that was the first and last time I did that. Just for kicks, I once asked my sister-in-law why Thai women don’t really care when men give them flowers. The answer she gave really summed up the Thai psyche: “Because you can’t eat them.” <this is brilliant!Stick>

– Thai medical treatment: I once had a wisdom tooth removed at Ram 1 in Chiang Mai. I took a friend of mine with me just because I was quite nervous about my first medical treatment in Thailand. With the female doctor’s permission, he stood by and watched (actually he hovered right over her shoulders peering into my mouth, and she didn’t seem to mind at all). Anyway, after what seemed to be only one or two minutes, my friend said “it’s out.” I couldn’t believe it: I honestly didn’t even know that she had started ANYTHING in my mouth. That was hands-down the best, most pain-free, shortest, wisdom tooth removal I’ve ever had. I only wish the first three in Farangland had gone so easily (and cheap!).

– Don’t let Thais into your house. I wrote a piece a few months ago with that title. Several people asked me to write a follow-up. The basic situation was that while in the US, I had helped a visiting Thai family quite a lot for several months with the little things that make living there a little confusing at times (phone bills, moving, even staying at my house a while before they left for Thailand). I usually stay 6 months in Thailand, 6 months in the US for my job. The follow up: A month ago my wife and I moved back to Thailand. We spent a few weeks up in Isaan, said hi to the in-laws, checked on our house, then we headed back to Bangkok. In addition to my employment, I’ve started a small business with some friends, Thai and Farang. It’s going alright so far, plus I don’t have any grand plan on getting rich. Anyway, I had intended on asking my Thai friend (we’ll call him X), who I met and helped in the US, to help me deal with some issues with permits and red tape since he works for the Thai government. All the time we were in America he said he would gladly do this when I returned to Bangkok since I had helped him so much while he was in the US. So a few nights after we were back in Bangkok, my wife tells me, “you know honey, X thinks that you are going to cut him in on your business profits because he is going to help you with stuff here in Thailand.” I asked her where that came from, and she told me that through mutual Thai friends both here in Thailand and back in the US, X and his wife had been telling people that he was happy that I would be giving him some of the profits of my business deals. After all I had done to help in back in America, he didn’t want to just help me out as I had done for him – instead he wanted “in.” After that, I have since remained cordial with my friend X but told him that I no longer required his assistance with my business because me and my other business partners were sorting everything out OK. He seemed a little disappointed but said nothing else when I told him, and I have left it at that. It all goes back to my original premise: Don’t let Thais into your house.

Stickman's thoughts:

A nice collection of stories. I LOVED the flowers can't be eaten bit!