Human Trafficking Part 2, Chinese / Thai Style
I first started having lunch at this local Chinese restaurant at a point in time when I was obsessed with finding an Asian girlfriend. For a Kentuckian like myself, this was the best hunting ground available short of actually going to Asia, but I would soon find out that this place was just a hellhole for illegal immigrants to work off their debt for being smuggled here. I would chat it up with the Chinese girls only to find out that after they chatted with me, they "Went back to New York". I guess that "Going back to New York" was their punishment for chatting with me. I can't help but wonder what actually happened to these girls.
I now call this restaurant the "Human Trafficking Buffet". I gave up on this place as a potential hunting ground as soon as I discovered that there was a huge problem here. Lets just say that now I'm working on a project on the side. I observe, take notes and report my findings. Since I've been working on this project, I've discovered 2 other restaurants in Kentucky, 1 in Tennessee and 2 in Indiana, all of them owned by the same Chinese person. I've been hoping to bump into some of the girls who have vanished from the restaurant in my town to no avail. I guess that they really went back to New York. Also, I would bet my next pay check that they have a series of restaurants stringing from El Paso, Texas to New York since a lot of illegal Chinese immigrants cross the Mexican border to get here.
With all of this being said, I was having lunch as usual and I noticed this Chinese looking girl working there. Actually, I had seen her there a couple of times before, but not on a regular basis. This restaurant rotates its waitresses in pairs of 2, often with the girls only working 2 days before they "go back to New York". I counted 24 different girls in a 1 month period with only a couple of them rotating back to this restaurant, so that's what I thought was the case with this girl.
She had never waited my table before, but she did on this day. I asked for her name and she said "Rrrrrrahny". I couldn't understand her so I asked her to repeat it and again, she said "Rrrrrrahny". I had never heard a Chinese girl roll the R's that way so I asked her to write her name. She wrote down the name "Rainy" and she said "like the water". This girl looked Chinese as all get out. She had light yellow skin, but I did notice a slight fold in her eyelids which I had not seen with the Chinese girls, so I asked her where she was from. She said "I'm from Thailand". At this point, I'm very confused because I had never met a Thai girl in this restaurant before, all of the girls that I have met there were Chinese. Also, why is a Thai girl working in this hellhole of illegal Chinese immigrants? Then things got very busy and she had to wait on some other customers.
Then a few minutes later, she is back at my table chatting with me. I asked her why she was working at this restaurant. Her reply was "I just work part time, the owner calls me to fill in when one of the full time girls quits (sent to New York for talking to customers )". She said that she was a teacher in Bangkok and she was attending the University here to improve her education. Then she had to go wait on other customers again.
Then the next thing I know, she is back at my table chatting with me. At this point, I found her actions towards me quite a bit more up front than any of the Thai girls that I had met. I didn't ask her to come to my table, all that I did was ask for her name and she was there chatting with me. Very unusual for a good Thai girl going to school here. She said that she was half Chinese and half Thai which explains why I thought that she was Chinese.
So at this point I'm thinking that this girl probably has a wealth of information about the restaurant that I can use for my side project, so I asked for her e-mail address. She gave me her e-mail address which began with the Thai name "Namfon" which I would later learn from a Thai friend of mine translates into English as "water" which explains her English nickname "Rainy".
We also chatted a bit about a new Thai restaurant that will be opening soon in town. She said that she knew the owner, but she wasn't supposed to talk about it. Now I wonder why this Thai restaurant is such a big secret? That was the end of our conversation for this day. I tipped her, she gave me a wai and I went on my way.
A lot of things just didn't add up about Namfon. Also I found it odd that the Thai restaurant was such a big secret. I have also read that these Thai restaurants are often havens for illegal immigrants. There was a Thai restaurant here about 5 years ago and the word on the street is that it was shut down for hiring illegal. With all of this in mind, I just had to go check this place out.
When I drove by the restaurant, I noticed that the front door was open, so I decided to just walk in and see what was going on. As I entered the restaurant, I noticed 6 American construction workers and a Thai guy. I wanted to talk to the Thai guy, but he was talking on his cellphone, so I asked one of the Americans who the owner of this joint was and he pointed towards the Thai guy. So much for Namfon's big secret. Something smells here, things just don't add up as far as I'm concerned. I noticed that this Thai guy was wearing expensive clothing and he was driving a brand new and very expensive sports car. It's very obvious that this guy has a lot of money or a lot of debt, one or the other. I jotted down the license plate number of his car for future reference. I'm going to keep an eye on this place.
About Namfon? Things would soon become more confusing about her. I sent her an e-mail the next day. It was very short and simple. "Hi, I am glad to meet you, maybe we can be friends". A couple of days went by with no reply from Namfon. I stopped by the Chinese restaurant a couple of times, but Namfon wasn't working. I asked one of the Chinese girls if Namfon still worked there and she said that Namfon would be working on Christmas day.
Now it's Christmas day. I was supposed to be at my Dad's house at 1:00 pm, but I decided to stop by the Chinese restaurant and see what was up with Namfon. I had also bought her a teddy bear in hope of getting on her good side. When I walked into the restaurant, I noticed that all of the Chinese girls were wearing Santa hats. If anybody has seen Asian girls wearing Santa hats, you know that it's a sight to behold. It's also a bit ironic since most of the customers were Jehovah's Witnesses and Jews, neither of which celebrate Christmas( no offense intended). I have to give the girls credit, they were trying to show respect by wearing the Santa hats.
I was greeted by this illegal immigrant Santa hat wearing Chinese girl named Ping ( who would later get sent back to New York for sitting at my table and chatting with me). Ping went to the kitchen and brought a Santa hat wearing Namfon out so that I could talk to her. Let me tell you, Namfon was not at all happy to see me. She did give me a wai and said hello, but her response to me was not the same as it was when I first met her. I asked her if she had received my e-mail. She said " No, my roommate moved out and took the computer ". I asked for her phone number and she said that she didn't have a phone. OK, I wonder how the owner of the restaurant calls her in to fill in if she doesn't have a phone? Hmmm.
I told her that I had a small gift for her and I tried to get her to go out to the lobby so I could give it to her in private to avoid a scene in front of the customers, but she wouldn't go. So I gave it to her anyway. She gave it back to me and said " Thank you for coming to see me, but next time don't bring me a gift ". She then said that she had to go back to work. She said that she was working in the kitchen because she was sick which was bulls**t because I noticed her waiting on some customers as I was leaving.
I'm not sure what the story is with Namfon. Why her reaction was different towards me from the first time I met her is a mystery to me. Maybe the owner told her not to talk to me? If so, she's under the control of the restaurant and probably isn't a college student at all and probably an illegal immigrant. If so, how did a Thai girl get caught up in the middle of a Chinese human trafficking ring? A lot of things don't add up about her. 4 weeks have gone by and I have never seen Namfon again. I guess that she got sent back to New York for talking to me, but who knows. I've asked a couple of the Chinese girls what happened to Namfon, but sometimes getting the truth out of an Asian is like having your teeth pulled without novacane, especially if they have something to hide.
I have to tell the story about the Chinese girl named Ping. I decided to have lunch at the " Human Trafficking Buffet " about a week after my experience with Namfon just to see what's going on. This time Ping waited my table for the first time. She had worked there for about 3 weeks and I often had seen her crying. It was obvious to me that something was wrong here.
The next thing I knew Ping was sitting at my table. I asked her to leave because she would get in trouble for talking to me. She said that she was on break and she could do as she pleased. I asked her to leave again, but she refused. I asked her how long she had been in the U.S. and she said 3 weeks. She said that she came from China to New York via airplane, then she was sent here to work. Does this sound suspicious? It does to me. We chatted a bit more and I noticed that the manager was standing close by watching and listening to everything. I gave Ping a $2.00 tip , paid for my meal and left.
I stopped by 2 days later and I noticed that Ping wasn't working. I asked one of the other Chinese girls if Ping still worked there. She said " No, she went back to New York ".
Isn't it obvious that I have stumbled upon part of a human trafficking ring? Seems so to me.
Be careful with anyone involved in trafficking – the stakes are high!