Readers' Submissions

Dine in the House, Leave Feces on the Roof

  • Written by Anonymous
  • March 12th, 2009
  • 5 min read


Black Pagoda Patpong Bangkok


The title of this submission is a Thai saying. It is not an instruction for you to follow, but something our fathers and mothers tell us to refrain from doing.

Just like everywhere in the world, Thai culture and society ideally calls for integrity. People of good values are universally more desirable. In an ideal society, good deeds are rewarded and recognized, and the bad ones are frowned upon or punished. We Thais are taught not to steal, kill, get drunk, lie (you heard right), or commit sexual misconduct including adultery, premarital sex or promiscuity (you heard right again.) It is the Five Precepts—the basic Buddhist code of ethics. Unfortunately the ideal stays ideal or else they would not have called it ‘ideal.’

Among other things we are taught as we are growing up is to be grateful for what others are kind enough to provide us with, to be appreciative. We are also taught to return the favor. (Bribery is an outrageous interpretation of this concept!) Not only Thai people are taught this way. This teaching is universal.

It makes you wonder how things can go so wrong when there are so many people these days who are not a grateful bunch. Are you being returned the favor you have done for someone? How many times have your good intentions been taken for granted? How many times have you been taken for a free ride?

My father has always taught me to count my blessings and remember what other people have done for me out of genuine kindness. But what my father taught me appears to be only half true in today’s world. He said no need to remember the good things you have done for others, they will remember it for you. He gave me an example about himself as a young preacher teaching a youth in the church to tie his necktie. The kid is now in his late forties and an elder at the church He still tells people how appreciative he was. It’s the smallest things in the world you can do for someone, but it was touching for my dad that the kid-now-elder sill remembers, while dad has long forgotten about it.

What is half true about what he teaches me is, as much as I still hold my firm belief that there are more good people than bad people, not everyone in this fast-moving, materialistic world bothers to remember you have helped them. Everything to many people regardless of race is all about themselves and what they can get out of people around them. It is all about seizing the opportunity. So many people are exploiting your friendship, kindness, or even love. They are abusing it until one day you will come to lose faith in your fellow human.

Taking someone in some sort of relationship/friendship with you for a ride is already bad enough. Stabbing them in the back or hurting them is even worse. It’s the worst thing you can do to someone so kind to you, really. Look around and see how many people only call when they need something. Do you see someone who is willing to travel so far to stay at your place over the weekend and would not leave even though you are sick as a dog so that you would hear all the crap about his or her pathetic miserable life, sponges off you, then goes on and talks crap about you behind your back?

Do you have a ‘girlfriend’ in a third world country on the other side of the globe calling you up when you are late with your monthly payment without being mindful about the economic situation in your country and your being on the verge of losing your job, then turn her phone off at odd hours probably sleeping with other guys?

This teaching of not to ‘dine in the house, defecate on the roof’ is very common among, but not only applies to, Thai people. It is the saying we use all the time to refer to someone who is not only being ungrateful, but also brings you shame, hurts you, or does something bad to you.

Apart from this saying we also have a parable of a farmer and a cobra which teaches the same thing. One day in freezing cold weather a farmer goes out in the field and finds a cobra lying there freezing to death. The farmer’s heart was softened and he took the cobra into his arms to warm it up. Once the cobra warms up and is conscious, it bites the farmer sending venom through his veins. He dies. The farmer is one heck of a stupid guy, I know, but you’ve got the idea.

From the submissions I’ve read on the Stickman website and horror stories I’ve heard from elsewhere, I see there are a lot of cases out there where foreigners are taken for a ride and are hurt in the process by the ungrateful girls they are trying to save from the bar scene or poverty. They probably do not see your act of generosity as something they should appreciate as they can always ‘shop’ for a better offer. Money is extracted and spent on their Thai boyfriend/husband or even other younger farang boyfriends. What the author of the ‘From Good to Bad’ submission from January earned in return of a free trip to Australia for his ‘girlfriend’ was series of lies and deceptions. It is saddening but he is not alone.

It is not that we Thais do not preach integrity, but it is just that some hearts are hardened; too hardened to care about others. I believe people who do this are damaged in some way. It is really sad that they cannot see past their hurt and be grateful for the good deeds people do for them. However, I still believe there are good people out there—someone who deserves and appreciates your kindness and generosity. You just need to weed them out, say ‘no’ quicker, and act on instinct. Don’t let bad apples throw you off and convince you that people who ‘dine in the house, defecate on the roof’ is all there is out there.

Stay positive.

Stickman's thoughts:

A lack of gratitude doesn't sit well with many. Unfortunately, as long as Western guys keep taking short cuts to meet (often the wrong type of) Thai women then they are going to keep meeting this lack of gratitude prevalent.