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Stickman Readers' Submissions March 3rd, 2009

Western Union Is A (Thai) Girl’s Best Friend

I write this with the benefit of hindsight (assisted by a couple of cold ones) sitting on my balcony.

Mea culpa. Belatedly I have the insight I sorely lacked in earlier times. The inspiration was Marilyn Monroe singing ‘Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend’. Who can forget it? Did you hear the story about her press conference after the press found out that she had done a photo-calendar shoot in her less successful times? She was asked something like ‘Is it true, you had nothing on during the photo sessions?’ and replied ‘No, it’s not true, we had the radio on’. Fast forward to a few years ago when the excellent Alice Band released a song ‘Nothing on but the radio’.

He Clinic Bangkok

I got to thinking about the modern phenomenon that is Western Union Online. And other providers as well, of course – MoneyGram, etc. Just how dangerous they can be.

I am sure that I am not alone on this site of all sites in my experience of using these services. (If I am alone then I am even more of a sad case than I thought). I suspect that many here have shared my thoughts.

After an evening out in the company of friends when alcohol has been taken, where perhaps pleasures of the flesh have been available but resisted, you retire home and decide to just check your e-mail before bed. Or – this can be dangerous too – you resist going out for the evening and just take a nightcap, then you give the Stick site a final check and that gets you thinking of your Thai ‘teerak’.

You are in the danger zone!

Maybe a little chatting on MSN, or an exchange of e-mail, and you just know that she is the only one for you and you for her. You know that you really really can make a life together. ‘All you need is love’ and she loves you, you love her – nothing can go wrong. You know that the cost of your couple of nights out (no naughty bits) could finance her ordinary lifestyle in a poor country for a week or so. You talk for a while. She tells you her latest news and sometimes her news is about things going wrong. You thought you had helped her to get back on track but it seems that always, just around the corner, there is a problem. A little bit more help (cash) is needed. ‘OK’ you think, I can relate to that.

And sooner or later, you log on to Western Union. ‘Don’t worry, honey, here I come on my big white horse, we can fix this’. A few clicks then ‘this is the number you need, it’s there waiting for you’.

Have you been there, done that? I have – and now I feel completely stupid.

I live in probably what is a Western Union net ‘donor’ country as opposed to a net ‘recipient’ country. When I did not have the ‘net’ I queued behind Filipinas who were sending money home. Got talking to a few and that expanded my awareness. Not enough, of course, but I learned some things. On a Sunday afternoon here I enjoy going to the local Filipina shop (with internet café and Western Union point, of course) and watching the ladies sending money home. It is an eye-opener and knowing just how hard some of them work to get together a few Euros for the families back home I am often humbled.

Now I am a little more cynical I would love to spend some time in a net ‘recipient’ country – yes Thailand would do – and just sit and watch the proceedings at a Western Union office. I wish I could be a fly on the wall when my ‘teerak’ goes to collect her stipends because I suspect that I am not the only one whose ‘sender details’ she has to know.

I readily appreciate modern technology. I embrace it. The ease in modern communications, Skype, MSN, everything. At one time, in a previous job and a previous life, I took full advantage of it. Now, I take a step back and use the bits that will help me. And (I can’t help feeling) many others do the same.

In my cynical moments, I wonder whether if I had a problem using Western Union online I would get a faster answer by asking a Thai girl than I would by using Western Union’s helpline. I think I know the answer.

For me – belatedly – there will be no more logging on and getting out the card and, well it’s relatively painless, isn’t it? No, it’s always painful to a greater or lesser degree and never more painful than when you look back with hindsight and reflect and realise just what a fool you were.

Go for it girls! Assuredly, Western Union is your new best friend.

Stickman's thoughts:

If prostitution in Thailand was outlawed then Western Union would pull out of the country…