I’m Not Complaining……But
I want to have a weekly column in the Nation like Roger Beaumont has and the words above will be the title.
Every week I will grumble about something or other and of course it will do not one bit of good and nothing will change.
This week's topic will be about the concept of service here in Thailand. Wait, that’s an oxymoron and entirely the wrong terminology. Jeeze, I’ll never get a job at the newspaper this way. I just looked in the dictionary and the first definition for concept that comes up is ‘an abstract idea.’ Now try explaining that to a Thai. Impossible. And the second word – service?
Almost as bad; it’s defined as the action of helping or doing work for someone.
Now I bet you think a restaurant rant is coming up. You’re wrong. I’m going to do that next week, talk about all those vacant-eyed waiters on the floor, the place is jam packed, full to the rafters and they are on the same speed as when the place was almost empty, that is from stop to slow to zombie and you still can’t get anyone’s attention.
This week I do want to complain about service but we have to narrow it down a bit. And every time I complain about a topic I will offer a workable solution to the problem. ‘Yeah, right.’ Okay, all we can do is make a few suggestions.
I was sitting at home the other day. Rain in Rawai and a few drinks is always a dangerous combination. All kinds of thoughts creep into your head. It’s off season and I’m bored out of my skull. The phone rings and it’s some bar girl from Kata that I took home a year ago. She is probably as bored silly as I am and since my name begins with a V, I suspect that she has already worked through her entire mobile phone book trying to drum up some moron to keep her company on a dreary day like this and I’m the end of the line.
I figure why not and jump into my car and go over to pick her up. Oddly enough she lives right next door to the Kata Wat and I mean right next door, you have to drive onto the grounds to get to her apartment. We are almost to my house and she asks, ’Are you hungry?’
Well, it’s about two in the afternoon and I could grab a bite and we were just passing my favorite Thai restaurant, a humble thatched roof affair with excellent food. I pulled over and turned off the ignition.
‘The food here is no good. I want to go to the beach and eat seafood.’
‘It’s raining out now; it will be windy and wet,’ I am saying.
What I am thinking is, if you believe that I’m going to buy you a shrimp dinner and let you eat as if you are going to the electric chair, you’re crazy.
‘I’m not going to the beach,’ I said. ‘Do you want to eat here or not?
I started the car and drove home. Once in my house she asks for a glass of red wine. Okay, no problem.
Do you have any cocaine? No? how about some grass? Let’s get some. I’ll call my friend and have it delivered.’
No thanks, I don’t do that, lets just stick to the program.’ Christ, what is she going to ask for next?
It didn’t take her long. We started to take a shower and I suggested that she have a smoke.
‘That’s going to be two-thousand then.’
‘No way, we agreed on a thousand and besides you always smoke so cut the crap.’
‘I need the money for my baby.’
‘You don’t have a baby.’
‘I mean my sister’s baby. She’s sick.’
Now I am beyond being annoyed. 'Do you want to grab a towel and dry off and I’ll take you home?’
‘No, no, I was just asking.
Later, when it was over and we were getting ready to leave, I pressed a thousand baht bill into her hand.
‘How about a tip?’
‘I always ask for a tip.’
‘Yes, but we agreed on a thousand and you didn’t do anything special.’
‘Don’t be a cheapskate,’ she said as she held up all five fingers on her right hand, firmly clutching the silver note with her other hand.
‘Five-hundred baht tip? You’re losing your mind. Let’s go.’
The little Thai restaurant wasn’t far away and as we approached it she said, ‘Lets stop here and eat.’
‘We can’t, you said the food is no good.’
‘But I’m hungry now.’
I just kept on driving.
‘Okay then give me some money for food and I’ll eat later.’
‘Sure, that’s no problem. I just gave you a thousand baht. You can eat for a week on that or call up ten girl friends and take them all out for dinner tonight.’
I took her home and dropped her off. On the way back I’m thinking what a ball busting experience that was.
That’s the last time for her. And the most amazing part about the whole thing?
She showed up at my door a few nights later with her motorbike. She wanted to come in and ‘hang out for a while.’
She thought that her greedy money grubbing ways were perfectly normal. Now, that’s really no way to behave.
The first rule of business is that you must be of service to your custom and I mean really be of service, not just go through the motions.
It’s always risky to take a bar girl home. Eight times out of ten it’s simply not a very satisfying experience. I don’t even want to do this anymore. And the prettier they are, the higher the chances are that they will be lethargic and indolent. Do they think that they are so gorgeous that all they have to do is lay there?
Now – here’s the solution that I promised.
I am going to have some cards printed up, about the size of a business card or a bit larger.
One side will be in Thai and the other in English so if the girl can’t read or doesn’t understand it, someone may be able to explain it to her. The first rule in any presentation, as in business, is to put the other person first, make it interesting to them right from the start. The message would begin something like this.
How would you like to have a very profitable business and make money every day? You can have customers all of the time and without sitting in that boring beer bar every night staring into space.
The key to your success here is repeat business. Repeat business is when you have customers coming back time after time.
You must treat your customer with care and do as good of a job as is possible.
You have to spend the next half-hour with the man no matter how you look at it.
Why not show him the best time that you can.
And then he may bar-fine you out a second time or call you again. If you treat everyone nicely and give them good value for their money instead of being lazy and remiss in your duties, they may call you again and you can build up a list of clients that will call you back. You might establish a list of ten or twenty clients that you could count on every week – money in the bank.
You probably have never been bar-fined out twice by the same person because you are too stupid and lackadaisical to be of use to anyone.
As for me, you will never see me again because you did a terrible job, were no good and were not worth my time or my money, however I leave you this card as a tip. Pay attention.
You see, I put that last part in as I would only give this card to a girl that needed it – and most of them do.
If she was a nice girl and did a good job, then I would be handing her a real tip instead.
Stay tuned for next week's grumble.
You had better get a lot of cards printed!