Kudos to Staff at After School Bar – and to the Thong Lor Police?
I was enjoying an afterwork beer outside Moonshine Joint on Soi Cowboy at 5.30 on Thursday 1 September, when a fellow came and sat down at the same bench as me and ordered himself a beer. After three or four minutes, he was approached by a local guy,
aged probably somewhere in his thirties, who asked if he had just come from After School Bar (also known as Sunshine Bar), across the road. The fellow, who might have been slightly the-worse-for-wear, but certainly not badly so, confirmed that
he had. At which the man, an employee of After School, explained that while he thought he had paid a bar bill of 105 baht with a 100-baht note and a 5-baht coin, he had in fact paid with a 1,000-baht note and a 5-baht coin. Smiling, the employee
explained that he had tried to catch him as he left, and then looked up and down the soi for him and finally spotted him outside Moonshine Joint. He then proceeded to give the punter 900 baht back in change, and walked off, the somewhat bemused
punter insisting to me and others sitting outside the bar that he was sure he had only paid 105 baht!
Now, I'm not sure what drink or combination of drinks could come to a total of 105 baht at around 5.00pm in After School – I was paying happy hour prices in Moonshine, although I think their bottled beer might go up to 105 baht later in the evening – but it seems pretty clear there couldn't have been a tip involved in the original transaction. Is this kindness and honesty rare in bar staff, or are incidents of this kind perhaps more common than I imagine?
Anyway, my new acquaintance then proceeded to tell me the story of his afternoon, which had involved a stay of two-and-a-half hours in Thong Lor Police Station. He took off his glasses to show some redness and swelling and cuts under his eye, which was clearly going to develop into quite a shiner. He had been crossing a zebra pedestrian crossing earlier, somewhere in the Thong Lor Police jurisdiction, on a green light for pedestrians, when a taxi had braked hard and just avoided hitting him, or possibly did hit him slightly (not clear from the way the story was told). Anyway, either instinctively or in anger, my friend had swung the heavy bag of shopping he was carrying at the taxi, somehow cracking its windscreen. At which point the taxi driver got out of his car and landed one on the guy, breaking his spectacles and inflicting said eye damage. At which point Plod appeared, and the taxi driver said he wanted 10,000 baht in compensation. At which point Plod suggested they get it all sorted out down at the station.
Now, my new friend did tell me that in his considered view neither drivers nor traffic police in Thailand had any notion of – or indeed cared about – traffic regulations or rights on the roads. I'm not sure if he advanced this view down at the station, but he did say that he knew he had had right of way, and would not pay "one tenth of one satang" – which amount apparently exists in the Thai monetary sysem – in compensation. The cop – or possibly another one down at the station – listened to the guy's arguments, I think put in basic Thai, and then said that no compenation should be paid in either direction, and that the fellow could go, the only cost to him thus being that of getting a rather mangled pair of spectacle frames straightened out and two-and-a-half hours of his day, which I must say sounds a pretty fair and reasonable response to the situation, if we overlook the small facts that: a) the farang had been hit by a taxi while crossing a pedestrian crossing with the light on green for him, and, b) he had then been assaulted in the street!
(Actually, I'm fairly sure, looking back now, that if he had seemed a little the-worse-for-wear when speaking, it was probably because he'd been a bit shaken up by his experience, rather than because an excess of drink had been taken.)
But, again: his two experiences in one afternoon with Thais acting reasonably, though possibly wearied by daily dealings with Freddy Farang on a daily basis: unusual or commonplace?
Interesting to hear of this fellow's experiences. It would be easier to err on the cynical side and with each of these two stories think that the guy was going to be a victim. But some people who know how to play the game and just as importantly know the importance of being polite and keeping your cool, are able to operate in such a way that they get a positive outcome in such situations in Thailand.