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Update On My Emporium Opening



Oh, I'm so excited. This Friday we open the new emporium and we've worked so hard to make sure everything is just right. We've had a “dummy run” and tested some of the products on a few of the locals by handing out mini-samples of soup burgers and porridge sandwiches. Only yesterday, Rodney went walking with a sandwich board and a tray of products down by the gate of The Australian Embassy on Thanon Sathon Tai and the response was overwhelming.

Rodney has secured the services of a much-sought-after DJ – he comes from Djibouti and appears to be highly regarded from the recommendations of the management of the establishment where he last worked in this thriving city called Dikhil. Rodney says this chap insists on working with just a lap-lap but he's not the most handsome fellow because he has ribs like a xylophone and lips like a squashed inner-tube. Now you wouldn't want to say anything like that about anyone, would you? I don't know what comes over Rodney sometimes. We can't pronounce his name – see what you can do with it (Iybechukwoo Nbawibootwoo) – so we're just going to call him Rastus. Anyhow, I suppose looks are not everything – we'll dolly him up a bit and make him wear a hat and sunglasses – the patrons will think he's the new Sammy Davis Jr. I get to meet him later today when he flies into Suvarnabhumi on Air Djibouti's DC-1 – Business Class, of course – courtesy of his former employer.

How does Rodney know so much about this guy? Well, Rodney won this competition on the Tourist Authority of Thailand website and had two weeks in Djibouti as second prize. He's not impressed with Djibouti and said he wished he could have won first prize because then he would only have had to stay one week in Djibouti. We're not sure if Rastus can speak Thai or English as Rodney has not spoken with him as he was always accompanied by his “minder” who did all the talking. Rodney's been learning Arabic out of his book and I hear they also speak French in Djibouti so I may be able to drag up a bit of the old lingo that I learned back in school – long time ago now, so I might be a bit rusty. Not to worry, we'll get by – you never know, Rastus may even speak Thai or a bit of English. I only hope we don't have any problems because Rodney says these are not proper people – “Chalermchai, if they can't speak Thai how can they be proper people?” This attitude doesn't sound too promising so we'll just have to play it by ear.

I've had terrible problems negotiating with Thai Immigration to get them to allow Rastus to work here but Rodney was able to get Somchai's family to pull a few strings and now everything will be OK. They're going to classify him as a cultural exchange – even though they can't find anyone who wants to go to Djibouti. Anyhow, they're happy to let him stay for now while they try to find an exchange. His “minder” was telling Rodney that Rastus's family are highly-regarded in the community as his Great-grandfather (Goodluck Percy) served as batman to Lord Baden-Powell at the siege of Mafeking. Well that should go down well and will be highly regarded by Thai Immigration.

Just as a matter of interest, to illustrate the dedication of Goodluck Percy, I am told he rode his velocipede all the way from Dikhil to Pretoria – then he sprinted over to the front lines (didn't want his velocipede to get damaged). He arrived there just as the Boers and the British were having a lunch break and a friendly game of cricket – so he went up to Baden-Powell and introduced himself. Baden-Powell was so impressed he decided he could use a resourceful fellow like Goodluck Percy so he sat him down and gave him a plate of cucumber sandwiches and a cup of tea and asked him if he would like to become his batman. Sounds pretty Kosher to me.

On the other front, I am having some concerns at this idea of Rodney's to use the monkeys for waiting on the patrons. We are having awful trouble training them and keeping them inside the building as they've bitten a few pedestrians passing by on the soi outside. The Workplace Health and Safety Inspector came by last week and he got bitten on the leg. Actually it was a bit more serious than that, the silly bugger tried to get back his clipboard from one of the monkeys and six of them attacked him – so I'm not sure if he will pass us. We won't know for sure until we see if he comes out of the coma and we know whether he has rabies or not. Obviously, if the result is positive we may be in a bit of trouble – but I think Somchai's family will be able to come to the rescue. Speaking of Somchai, Rodney got an e-mail from Randall saying that Somchai is being released very soon as the doctors are declaring him to be “of sound mind” and will “Certify” him accordingly. Rodney was overjoyed and is looking forward so much to Somchai's return, asking me if we could find a position in our Emporium for him. Of course we will, considering the wonderful assistance his family has been to us in our negotiations with Thai Immigration.

There's a knock on my door and Rodney's smiling face is peering around the corner.

“Chalermchai, there is a lady to see you – Khun Sapsunthon, and she wishes to have a few words with you.”

“Please show her in, Rodney.”

“Sawat-dee ka, Khun Chalermchai – I was wondering if I could speak with you for a moment please.”

“Certainly, Khun Sapsunthon – how can I help? Please sit down.”

“Well, I don't want to be a nuisance – but my husband is very ill in hospital after he was bitten by one of your monkeys and then he was attacked by six more of them. We're not sure when he will come out of hospital and we are short of money now since he can't work. I have eight children, 4 dogs and 6 cats – I have been forced to sell the BMW and it looks like I may have to pawn all of my gold. I really don't want to have to sell the Mercedes. Oh, you don't know how stressful this is. It's all right for you rich people – you never have to worry about money – not like us poor folks who have to scrimp and save to survive.”

I looked across the table as she sat there with her arms folded, her nostrils flared and her lips pursed, her beady eyes waiting for my response.

“Khun Sapsunthon, yes, dear-oh-dear – my goodness, how sad – I am truly sorry for your unfortunate circumstances. You have my utmost sympathy – Rodney will fix you up out of petty cash on your way out. Be careful crossing the road – we don't want you having an accident now, do we?”

Well, she's gone.

“Rodney, please call a taxi – we have to go to Suvarnabhumi to meet Rastus soon. Do we have enough money for the taxi fare?”

“It's OK Chalermchai – I gave her an envelope with those foreign notes we always have trouble getting rid of.”

I always said Rodney was a smart lad.