Stickman Readers' Submissions May 25th, 2010

It’s Nice to Have Made a Few Friends along the Way

Considering the fact that I’ve lost count of how many submissions I’ve sent in over the past few years, you might not believe me when I say that I still do not consider myself to be a writer……seriously. Growing up young Sawadee was never visited by “The Muse”, and neither has old Sawadee. I have no burning desire to write “The Great American Novel”, or to see my name on the cover of any book. Well, okay….if for some unfathomable reason a publisher actually asked me to put something together, I probably could be persuaded. (I’m not holding my breath though!) In the end, I write what I do because I have fun doing so.

Amazingly, I receive a hell of a lot of e-mail. I’ve heard from hundreds of Stickman readers, many of who I have become close friends with. Without a doubt, getting to know them has been tremendously rewarding. Some are living here in Thailand; others are planning to move here at some point in the future; still others visit from time to time. We’ve exchanged news about what’s going on in our respective families, pondered about life in The Land of Smiles, and just generally yakked about just about any subject under the sun.

Some months ago I was wishing to myself that I had more English children’s books to use at my school. Thai children, like children all over the world, enjoy being read to. I know I’ve always enjoyed telling stories. My children were read to every night, and during my time as a manager for Barnes & Noble, I visited virtually every school in my area for “story time”. Unfortunately most Thais, even affluent, well educated ones, often don’t have any books at home, let alone any in English. I brought some children’s books with me from America, but I’m always on the lookout for more. Recently I found some classics at Dasa bookstore
in Bangkok. By the way, if you are a bibliophile, that is a wonder place to browse through! Anyway, while day-dreaming one day, the proverbial cartoon light bulb lit up in my mind. Hmmmm….. I wonder if I asked some of the folks I correspond with, if
they might be willing to send me a children’s book or two. If I’ve learned little else in my life, it’s that it never hurts to ask, as long as you do so politely. Whether it’s looking
for a job, or asking a cute girl for a date, you just never know until you ask. Hell, the worst that can happen is that the answer you’ll receive is “no”.

So, with little in the way of expectation, I started going through my Gmail address book and began sending out scores of e-mails. My request was polite, simple and to the point. If by any chance you had, or knew someone who had, any used children’s English picture books, would you please think about contributing them to my book project? If you are planning a trip to Thailand, perhaps you could bring a few books along and mail them from here. Postage from anywhere in Farangland is of course expensive. The children I teach at my school would appreciate just about anything. If this is something you would enjoy doing that would be fantastic. If not, it’s no big deal.

To be honest, I doubted that no more than a few people (if any) would respond favorably. Nonetheless I cast my net far and wide and waited to see what happened. To my utter delight, dozens of kind folks immediately wrote back to say yes! What kind of books would you like? Some had books sitting around their homes that their children used to read. Others had friends with a surplus of books sitting around. Some said they would ask around. Others said they would go out and buy whatever looked good. Some said they would mail what they found on their next trip to Thailand. Others said it was no problem to pack them up and post them.

It wasn’t long before parcels started arriving at my front door. I wonder what the postman who delivered these hefty packages thought was in them……and why this farang was suddenly receiving so many. It was like Christmas morning every day. Whether it was a single book or a box of fifty (yes some people were extremely generous) it was always like finding a box full of treasure. I couldn’t wait to see what was inside. Every single book was going to help open up the English language for some deserving children.

While the response to my book drive was overwhelmingly positive. I did receive one negative one, and it was an astounding bit of vitriol I must say. One contributor to this website, whose name I will not dignify to mention, wrote me some rant accusing me of being a hopeless Liberal. How dare I ask anyone to send a book? Apparently in this guy’s mind, any restriction whatsoever on guns made me his enemy. You may recall a piece I wrote earlier this year about a kindergarten student of mine, who found his father’s hand gun in the glove compartment of the family truck, and killed himself……while his younger brother looked on. In an e-mail to this guy, I said it was the obligation of a gun owner to have them securely kept away from children. You would think I threatened to personally break his door down with my jack-booted feet and pry his guns out of his cold, dead fingers. What that has to do with children’s books, I have no idea. Oh well, I guess there will always be a few nut cases out there in cyberspace.

It was gratifying to know that when it counted, so many Stickmanites were willing to come to the rescue. Without hesitation they opened their hearts….and wallets to contribute a little something back to Thai children they will never meet. Now that’s what I call class!

I look forward to meeting many of these fine folks when they make it back to these shores. They certainly have helped restore my positive outlook towards humanity. When looking at my life, I can consider myself blessed to have made a few friends along the way.

Oh, if after reading this, you would like to participate in my children’s book drive, please e-mail me and I will send you my address. What I am looking for are children’s picture books in English, for ages 5 – 10. Used books are fine, as long as they are in decent condition.

Stickman's thoughts:

It is absolutely wonderful that the site works so well and that it can bring people together, to form friendships, to learn from each other and to help with projects like this!

nana plaza