Investing In Thailand
I'm an old man, and (as old men are want to do) I need to confess my sins before it's too late.
First, a little about me: I've been living in Thailand for some 30 years, maybe longer. Things are very different now to what they were then … there was hardly a white face to be seen in those days. Now they are everywhere. I'd made a heap of money in the west – more than I could ever dream of spending – and wanted to go somewhere exotic to have some fun. Thailand was the perfect choice … the weather, the people, the food, the beaches, the nightlife … the tales I could tell from the first heady years would make your face blush and your toes curl. But, like everything, after a while I tired of it. I needed something else. I tried golf, scuba, waterskiing, car-racing, motorcycling before finding the source of amusement to end all others: schadenfreude.
People usually think I'm insane. I'm a reverse philanthropist … I spend money to make people miserable, which in turn brings me joy. Incredible joy, like when you first fall in love. When I suggested to my good friend the Arab that I pay a bunch of hot dancers to dance in his bars that couldn't be barfined, he couldn't understand it, but agreed as a personal favour to me. The Thais also have no understanding of why I would want to do that, but just the thought of how frustrated this potentially makes my fellow man brings joy to this old man's heart. With more bums on seats hoping to barfine the unbarfineable, and therefore more money in the till, he's very pleased with the results. The "coyote" deal was just the latest of personal victories, though … the bulk of the success I have enjoyed stemmed from forming a training company 20 years ago, called The Schadenfreude Institute. To date, we have offered thousands of Thai companies free customer service training. I have suggested to the Arab that perhaps his mamasans could also use some free training from the Schadenfreude Institute, but details are still being ironed out.
So far almost all individuals and companies approached by TSI with an offer for free training (and lunch) have jumped at the deal … Taxi and tuktuk drivers, touts for Indian tailors, sales ladies from large department stores, government bureaucrats, police officials, politicians all came for the free lunch, and stayed for the brainwashing. Some clients were easier than others … taxi drivers and tailor touts took to inconveniencing others like fish to water. The pleasure I got teaching the beautiful sales ladies was indescribable. I explained it to them that it didn't matter how much the customer had paid, or was going to pay for an item, if they tried or offered to help them with their purchase or after-sales support, the customer would lose an enormous amount of face. It was like a light bulb switching on in their heads. I recently read a reader's submission about a guy returning shoes (or trying to) and giggled myself silly.
When I rented my office space in Thailand for TSI, I patiently listened until the agent told me the rent. I laughed out loud. I told him, "You must be insane. White people can easily pay double that" and insisted that he charged me the higher rent. Artificially inflating prices is another way to plan a small seed now that will pay dividends for my happiness for years to come. When I eventually move out of the office space, and stop paying my monthly rental on the office, prices will still be artificially inflated … I'll move away from Thailand and get a kick out of those that remain paying more than they needed to, at least partially due to me.
Lately I've been trying to develop a new approach for TSI. I've recently been barfining BGs to get them to also attend training sessions – they just weren't interested in attending without a payoff, and a free lunch just didn't cut it for these students. You may've read recently about the increased membership of the Pattaya Flying Club, which I take some credit for. TSI sends our condolences to the girlfriend (with a red envelope bulging with cash) any time I hear of a new member of the PFC, just to keep the customer service training fresh in her mind. I don't know of course if someone joins of their own choice, or if a boyfriend helps them over to claim his share of condolences. It doesn't particularly matter … a policeman visited the TSI offices one day after one girl's farang boyfriends kept leaping. I recognized him from a training session or two, so I pointed out that the foreign complainants – presumably the family of the recently departed, fresh with grief – had filled in the form incorrectly, and therefore he wasn't required to do anything further.
Another beer, officer?
Very, very amusing!